Every once in a while you see a magical season, and those things should be rewarded. The emotion from Mitch Albom:
He earned it.
He earned it because he went 24-5. He earned it because he owned his starts from June through September. He earned it because he had 250 strikeouts and was as close to a sure thing as you get in sports. He earned it because he rested the next day's bullpen every time he pitched into the seventh, eighth or ninth.
He earned it because whenever the Tigers slipped on a banana peel, he was there to catch them, breaking possible slumps, keeping climbing opponents at bay.
He earned it because he was dominant. Because he was lights out. Because he threw a no-hitter and threatened a couple more. Because he got stronger as the game went on, relying on placement early and bringing the heat late. Who throws FASTER in the eighth inning? Are you kidding?
The stats from John Niyo.
What's more — or more valuable, I should say — was that Verlander went 16-3 in starts following a Tigers loss, the best such record since Steve Carlton in 1972, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Verlander led the AL in just about every meaningful pitching statistic: wins, winning percentage, innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, ERA-plus (ask your local sabermatrician) and hits per nine innings. And by the time September rolled around, it was pretty clear Verlander's numbers would closely match Clemens' stats from '86, which certainly fueled the MVP talk. The Tigers ace finished 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 250 strikeouts in 251 innings. Clemens went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 238 strikeouts in 254 innings.
And he's only 28 years old.
Here's to many more glorious seasons to come.