In 2011 Detroit ace Justin Verlander had one of the greatest seasons in the modern era of baseball by a starting pitcher.
Verlander dominated opponents to the tune of a 24-5 record, a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts. He led the American League in
each of those categories–and just about every other important statistic–and swept the AL’s Cy Young and MVP Awards. With a heavy movement of talent to the American League this year, Verlander will seriously have his work cut out for him if he wants to repeat those awards. Here’s how the staff at Venom Strikes sees the awards show shaking out in the American League.
Sorry JV, none of us–even an ardent Tiger fan here–feel that you’ll be able to repeat the 2011 success. Each of the four of us selected a different pitcher to win the Cy Young. Verlander had only three less wins last year than Felix Henandez has the past two seasons combined, but King Felix is the last player to blame for the Seattle Mariners inept offense. Tyler thinks Hernandez will bounce back from his 2011 that saw him post a 3.47 ERA–his worst since 2008–to win the award. Despite playing in an “intimate” home field–with a jet streak out to right–Thomas thinks that C.C. Sabathia will win his second Cy Young. The Rays David Price looked like a favorite to win the award last season after a 19-6, 2.72 ERA season, however he regressed in his third full major league season. Levi likes him to bounce back this year. Unfortunately, I have to go with Justin Verlander’s nemesis, Jered Weaver. Verlander and Weaver had a well-publicized duel in July that resulted in lots of bad blood. After the showdown, Verlander ascended and Weaver floundered a bit. Weaver finished a distant second to Verlander in 2011 voting, but I’m thinking he’s out for a little payback this year and will cruise to the award in 2012 with a replenished roster surrounding him.
We had a little of a consensus on the AL MVP award. Levi and I both feel that the Tigers slugging first baseman–I mean third baseman, thanks to Mr. Fielder’s arrival–Miguel Cabrera will finally win an MVP award. Cabrera finally enjoyed an outstanding season–he led baseball in hitting–and had team success–the Tigers made it to the ALCS–in 2011, but was completely overshadowed by Verlander, his teammate. Thomas also has a Yankee winning the MVP. He picks Mark Teixeira who seems to be a bit of a sleeper choice in a league that features Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury. Thomas might be crazy like a fox for picking him, however, as Teixeira has 111 home runs the last three season and hits in an All-Star lineup. After an injury plagued 2011, Tyler thinks Evan Longoria of the Rays bounces back to win his first MVP. Even in his down 2011, Longoria still hit 31 home runs and drove in 99.
A minor consensus again with the AL Rookie of the Year award as Tyler and I both think that Matt Moore of the Rays delivers on his top prospect promise and becomes a force in Tampa’s rotation. Moore absolutely dominated Double-A and Triple-A hitters in 2011 going 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 150 innings. Whether he makes the rotation or not–it’s looking like he will–he’ll get his shot at big league hitters before too long. Thomas goes with international superstar Yu Darvish who was signed by the Texas Rangers to replace CJ Wilson–an upgrade in my opinion. The Rangers aren’t letting their rival Angels see Darvish this spring, reportedly purposely avoiding any matchup with Darvish against the Angels. Darvish has pitched well so far–3.00 ERA with .207 opponent’s average–and Thomas thinks it will carry over to the regular season. Levi thinks that 20 year old top prospect Mike Trout of the LA Angels will win the award. Trout has been battling the flu this spring so he hasn’t had a ton of opportunities to win a job, but he seems to be a lock to make the big league club…if not out of spring then shortly after. Trout figures to be a big piece of the puzzle for the Angels and he should thrive hitting in a lineup with Albert Pujols.
Next up NL MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year predictions.
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