The one certainty regarding Major League Baseball is that the way in which we view the game and it's players is constantly changing. Over the last several years we have seen new statistics for both hitting and fielding, and also pitching.
But there are a few things that have remained the same, or perhaps I should say there are a few things that are different than they were in baseball's early days, but have not changed for quite some time.
I'm proposing that we change one particular thing to the way it was back in the day.
I'm talking about the most popular subject on FanNation these days - Justin Verlander for MVP.
Now before I say why we should go back to how things were, let me just put a few facts out there.
First of all, pitchers are eligible for the MVP award. There is a popular myth that the Cy Young award is pitchers' version of the MVP.
This is untrue. When the Cy Young was introduced, it was explained to the voters that this was a separate award, and that regarding the MVP award, voters were expected to consider all position players, pitchers, and even DH's.
Heck, in 1968, Bob Gibson won the NL MVP and the NL Cy Young, and Denny McLain won the AL MVP and the AL Cy Young. This was the only year that both awards were swept in both Leagues, but it illustrates my point that at a certain point, voters were aware of pitchers' eligiblity for the MVP award, even after the Cy Young was introduced, and were willing to give it to a pitcher if he was deemed deserving.
However, at some point, MVP voters became disillusioned with the idea of pitchers winning the MVP. There was a brief period of time when closers were viewed as serious MVP candidates, but overall the MVP has not been given out to pitchers very much at all over the last 40-plus years.
This needs to change.
Not simply for the sake of change, but just for the sake of fairness.
Which brings me to the Justin Verlander debate.
Most people would say he's not worthy of the MVP because as a starting pitcher, he only plays every fifth game, and therefore doesn't make as great an impact on his team as a position player would.
That is an unfair and an untrue assumption.
Let me give you some numerical information to back up what I'm saying.
Verlander has pitched 216 innings out of the Detroit Tigers' total 1,161 innings pitched. This means Verlander has pitched 18.6% of his teams' total innings pitched.
His teammate Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers best position player and an annual borderline MVP candidate, has logged 577 of the Tigers' total 5,001 plate appearances. This means Cabrera has been at the plate for 11.5% of the Tiger's total plate appearances.
It can be hard to compare a pitched to a position player, but when Verlander is responsible for 18.6% of his team's innings pitched, and Cabrera is responsible for just 11.5% of his team's total plate appearances, that indicates to me that the old way of thinking is wrong, and that a SP can have as much or more of an impact on his team's success as a position player.
It's time to let the old and incorrect way of viewing MVP candidates die.
We should consider all players as MVP candidates, provided their statistics prove their MVP-worthiness.
In short, maybe Justin Verlander shouldn't win the AL MVP come season's end, but it should be because his statistics don't match up when compared to another player, regardless of if that player is a position player or a pitcher.
Bottom line, Justin Verlander and every other pitcher can and should be in the discussion for MVP awards when their statistics merit consideration.