DETROIT -- Justin Verlander's dominant season has earned him serious consideration for American League Most Valuable Player honors. His status as the most valuable Tiger for this past season wasn't in much question.
The latest such honor came from the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which named Verlander as its Tiger of the Year for the second time in the last three seasons. Verlander received 25 out of 26 first-place votes, with the exception going to slugger Miguel Cabrera.
Just two pitchers, Verlander and Steve Sparks, have won the award over the last 25 years. Though some of that comes from a dearth of strong pitching in Detroit for a long stretch in the 1990s and early 2000s, it's still almost as much of a rarity as a pitcher winning league honors. Of course, Verlander's season was a rarity for a pitcher.
Not since Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser in 1945 has a Tiger won the league's pitching Triple Crown. Verlander pulled it off with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, numbers not seen in combination from a Major League hurler since Randy Johnson in 2002 or an American Leaguer since Vida Blue in 1971. Not since the memorable 1976 season of Mark Fidrych had a Tiger led the league in ERA. Not since Mickey Lolich in 1971 had a Tiger won that many games; no Tiger had won 20 since Bill Gullickson in 1991.
"Looking back and seeing how the numbers stack up, even to be mentioned in that category, I know it doesn't measure up to some of them, it's still pretty special," Verlander said last week. "I think it'll be a season I remember for a long time."
Verlander also led the league with an .828 winning percentage, 251 innings pitched, .192 opposing batting average, 6.24 hits and 8.39 baserunners per nine innings, and a 0.92 WHIP ratio.
The Tigers went 25-9 in games Verlander started, and 70-58 in all others. But the best judge of Verlander's impact might have been his 16-3 record in games that followed a defeat. No Major League pitcher had that many wins after team losses in a single season since Steve Carlton's incredible 1973 season, when he did it 19 times, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
"Obviously from a personal standpoint, it was an amazing year," Verlander said. "I worked extremely hard for this, and I told you guys a few times, if you expect greatness it shouldn't surprise you. I've always expected myself to be able to pitch this way."
Verlander already has a burgeoning awards collection coming, and this will add to it. His fellow players voted him both Sporting News Player of the Year and Players Choice MLB Player of the Year over the last couple weeks. He'll almost surely win the AL Cy Young Award when it's announced on Tuesday, but the bigger question is whether he'll get AL MVP honors the following Monday.
MLB.com honored Verlander as its Tigers Pitcher of the Year earlier this week.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.