Griffin: Verlander captures AL MVP with Bautista third
In a wide-open race for MVP in the American League, Tigers righthander Justin Verlander was named the 2011 winner, in a narrow decision over Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays.
Verlander, with 13 of 28 first-place votes, became the first starting pitcher since Roger Clemens in '86 to win the MVP and the first pitcher since reliever Dennis Eckersley of Oakland in '92.
Verlander compiled 280 points on the 28 ballots, in a 15-9-8-7, etc. format, being named on 27 of 28 ballots. Bautista, who led the majors in home runs and was arguably the top offensive player in baseball, received 231 points, trailing Ellsbury by 11 points. Bautista received five first-place votes to four for the Red Sox centre fielder, but Ellsbury was runner-up on 13 ballots, to provide the difference.
Verlander is just the second player in major-league history to win the Rookie-of-the-Year, the Cy Young and MVP over the course of a career, joining Don Newcombe of the Dodgers.
When Verlander turned his season around with a no-hitter at the Rogers Centre in early May, the Tigers went on to win 20 of his last 22 starts, going from five games under .500 to runaway winners in the AL Central over the White Sox and Indians. Verlander, 28, won the pitching Triple Crown in the AL, leading the league in wins with 24, ERA at 2.40 and strikeouts with 250.
Bautista followed up his breakout 2010 season, in which he slammed 54 home runs, with a campaign in which he hit .302 with 43 homers and 103 RBIs, drawing 132 bases-on-balls. The Jays finished at 81-81. Bautista finished fourth in 2010 MVP voting.
"Thanks everyone for their good wishes for the MVP, maybe next year!!" tweeted Bautista after the award was announced.
"Even though I didn't win the MVP I have something better nobody can't take from me, that's the love and support from my fans!You guys rock!"