Jose Bautista Is the AL MVP Right Now, Not Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander has won his last eight straight starts for the Tigers. He’s 20-5 and has a good shot at winning the most games by an American League pitcher since Bob Welch posted 27 victories in 1990. He has thrown a no-hitter and has shut out his opponent on six occasions this season. He leads the Majors in innings pitched, WHIP, strikeouts, and batting average against. Because of his success, pundits have begun talking about him as an MVP candidate this season. That even sparked a debate about whether pitchers should be eligible for MVP. While pitchers should be eligible for MVP, Jose Bautista still deserves the award at this point.
The Blue Jays right fielder has fallen off somewhat since his torrid first two months of the season, but he’s still raking more than any other hitter in baseball. Bautista leads MLB in home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. His current OPS is the highest in the American League since Jim Thome’s 1.122 mark in 2002. Yes, Bautista is posting the best numbers by an American League hitter in nearly 10 years. His level of offensive production cannot be overlooked just because he’s on a .500 club while Verlander pitches for a division leader.
Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball this season and he’s the favorite to win the AL Cy Young. Jered Weaver is also in the mix, but Verlander definitely has the inside track. If Verlander continues to dominate over his next handful of starts he will remain in MVP contention, but Bautista would have to drop off significantly to be surpassed in the MVP race. He’s just been too good this season.