Rarely in the MLB does a pitcher win Most Valuable Player honors. the last pitcher to win the MVP award in the National League was Bob Gibson in 1968. Since then, several American League pitchers have won the MVP award and most recently it was Dennis Eckersley who won it with the A’s in 1992.
Many voters simply won’t vote for a pitcher, because he doesn’t play every day and because there already is an award for the Most Valuable Pitcher — the Cy Young Award. It’s kind of like the kid who was born on December 27th. Let’s face it, the parents just hold one Christmas present back for the birthday.
But, if you ask Yahoo, its fantasy baseball MVP is Justin Verlander. Well, at least Justin Verlander is on many of the top fantasy baseball teams in its vast database of leagues. Of the top teams in Yahoo’s fantasy baseball stats service, the powerful Tiger pitcher is on 37.2% of the top Yahoo fantasy teams.
With Verlander, its easy to see why he is such a coveted pick. He’s simply having a phenomenal year. Verlander leads the MLB in wins (22), innings pitched (229), strikeouts (232) and a microscopic WHIP of 0.91. Add to that an ERA of 2.44 and a batting average against of .191 and the season Verlander is putting together is one of the best in recent memory.
The second best MVP is an interesting one. Toronto’s Brett Lawrie is held on 35.8% of the top Yahoo squads. Lawrie, 21, hit .353 for Las Vegas with 24 doubles, six triples, 18 home runs and 61 RBIs before getting the call by the Blue Jays on August 4. Lawrie, acquired in the off-season in the Shaun Marcum deal, has shown that his minor league stats were no fluke. Lawrie’s line on the year is .312/9/23/6 since coming up to The Show.
Lawrie’s reason for being on Yahoo’s MVP list is based on the fact that top managers knew his value. They either picked him up early in the season and sat on him or made the move to add him to their squad when Toronto made the move. The rich get richer when it comes to fantasy baseball managers who are on the ball and read Fantasy Baseball Dugout’s August 5 post which headlined that tabbed Brett Lawrie as a “must add free agent.” We certainly weren’t wrong on that one.
The third most rostered player among Yahoo’s best fantasy teams is Jordan Walden of the Angels. Fernando Rodney started the year pegged as the Angels closer, but he faltered early and manager Mike Sciosia said on April 5 that Jordan Walden would be his closer, at least in the short term, based on Walden’s dominant Spring and Rodney’s struggles. ”If it lasts all season and Jordan takes off and runs with it, fine,” Scioscia said. “If it’s Fernando, that’s fine, too. We don’t have to answer that today.”
They do today. While Walden has been far from perfect in the closer role with 29 saves and 9 blown saves, he hasn’t lost his job all year and Rodney has only 3 saves all year.
Walden has a plus fastball that’s hit 100 mph at times with plenty of sink to boot. When he can locate it, he’s a deadly and imposing closer. His slider is inconsistent, but it has bite and works to give hitters a different look. Pitching in relief means he no longer has to worry about that third pitch and he uses his change-up only on rare occasions. Maturity will surely help Walden become a more dominant closer in the future. Walden won’t blow 9+ saves next season.