Former Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander established himself as one of baseball’s top pitchers throughout his career in the Motor City, but the 2011 season was one of historic dominance.
With 24 wins, 250 strikeouts and a 2.40 ERA, he helped the Tigers to their first division title since 1987, he earned both the American League Cy Young Award and American League MVP Award.
“I feel like in the middle of that season, where it felt like almost every start was a potential no-hitter, that really propelled me to more of a household and national name,” Verlander told the Free Press in May. “For me personally, winning the Cy Young … was something that, really you couldn’t say you were the best in any given year if you didn’t win that award. You’re always aspiring to be the best pitcher. If you don’t win that award, then you’re just not. To me, that was what really propelled me, and especially the MVP.”
“I did consider the fact that I could win MVP,” Verlander said. “I guess I tried not to pay too much attention to it. It’s out of my hands at a certain point, but how could you not? USA Today, Sports Illustrated, all these large publications are writing about if I could be the first starting pitcher to win MVP since Roger Clemens.
“You can’t not see that or hear that. It was on my mind.”
After his 2017 trade to the Houston Astros that saw him earn his first career World Series victory, he continued his dominance on the mound. In 2019, with 21 wins and his 2.58 ERA, he earned another Cy Young Award/ His 34 starts were tied for the most in baseball, and he also finished with 223 innings played.
He’s currently recovering from having undergone Tommy John surgery and won’t be pitching competitively again until 2022. However, that hasn’t stopped him from saying that he intends to pitch into his 40’s. Could his future hold a return to the Tigers?
According to Verlander, it does cross his mind.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Verlander said. “Yeah, of course. I loved playing there. I love the city. I love the fans. Yes, I do think about it. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what’s best for my career. If that aligns with that possibility, then maybe it does.
“I need to get my elbow healthy first, and then I don’t even know what the next steps are. I’m a free agent, and I have no plan. For the first time, I’m entering free agency. We’ll just see what happens.”
– – Quotes via The Detroit Free Press LInk – –