Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The continuing story of Justin Verlander, magical pitcher

Justin Verlander and narratives -- in that link, Joe Posnanski discusses how sportswriters and commentators are clinging to the story that Justin Verlander was the reason the Tigers won last night, despite all evidence being markedly to the contrary.  It's a great read, it's spot on, and it has one problem and one problem alone. Alas, that problem is that Posnanski himself is guilty of perpetuating a narrative that numbers didn't necessarily back up with Verlander this season. See, for instance, two ways to look at MVP voting and the obvious MVP choice (he rightly concludes there isn't one)

While Posnanski is willing to acknowledge that Verlander is not a guarantee for MVP, he does seem to buy into the gospel that Verlander is a uniquely dominant pitching force in the American League. In fact, numbers indicate that he's a superb pitcher whose difference from other great pitchers has been exceptional fortune.  To the extent Verlander has a defining feature that makes him the true unrivaled leader in AL pitching, it's been his ability to pitch deeper into games than his rivals (which may be a function of how atrocious the Tigers' other starters were for most of the season, forcing Leyland to leave Verlander in to give his bullpen a rest).