Verlander selected player of year in union vote
NEW YORK – Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander has been selected player of the year in voting by the Major League Baseball Players Association, becoming the second pitcher to earn the honor.
Verlander beat out Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson for the Players Choice Award, announced Thursday. The only other pitcher to win it was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999.
"Obviously from a personal standpoint, it was an amazing year. I worked extremely hard for this," Verlander said during a conference call. "If you expect greatness, it shouldn't surprise you. So I've always expected myself to be able to pitch this way. So it still doesn't surprise me I did."
Verlander was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, leading the AL in all three categories.
"I think I'll be looking back at this one for a long time," he said. "I don't know if I'll have a season like this again, but I'm not going to discount it. I'm not going to say I won't. Things have to go right for it to happen, but I would say I can pitch better. I think I'm still scratching the surface here."
The heavy favorite for the AL Cy Young Award and a contender for AL MVP, Verlander had the most wins in the majors since Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2002. The right-hander found a groove after going 2-3 in his first seven starts and in the second half became the first pitcher to win 12 straight starts since Minnesota's Johan Santana in 2004.
"I got away from throwing," Verlander said. "Early in games specifically, I slowed down on purpose to try to create a platform and build off of that. ... If I'm not throwing at 100 percent, if I'm throwing at 95 percent, I'm going to be much more accurate."
Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez won the award last year.