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Justin Verlander makes a very strong push for Miguel Cabrera as AL MVP

In years past, the MVP race has had a tendency to become clearer as the season draws to a close. That has not been the case in the American League this season. Although Jim Leyland would have told you otherwise, Angels rookie phenom Mike Trout looked like the clear-cut favorite for AL MVP back at the beginning of August. Miguel Cabrera was a close second, but over the past month it has turned into 1A and 1B.

With Cabrera closing in on the Triple Crown, Last year’s AL MVP Justin Verlander feels that it would be ridiculous to give the award to anyone other than his teammate.

“Bull (expletive),” Verlander said on Wednesday when informed that some analysts say they would pick Trout even if Miggy wins the Triple Crown. “That’s ridiculous. When was the last time there was a Triple Crown winner, ’67? OK.

“That would be a joke in my opinion. Come on. Even the fact he’s one home run away (from a Triple Crown) is just absolutely absurd. Just watch him. And watch him when we need him, down this home stretch. Oh my god. You want to talk about MVP. Compare their numbers the last two months of the season. Big difference.”

Cabrera leads the AL with a .333 batting average and 130 RBI. He is in second by one homer behind Josh Hamilton with 41. The last player to win the Triple Crown was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, so it is clearly one of the rarest feats in all of professional sports. If Trout were to win the award, it would be the result of voters keeping amazing defensive plays like this one and this one in mind in addition to his impressive batting stats.

As impressive as Trout has been, I tend to agree with Verlander that a player who wins the Triple Crown would have to be the league MVP. At the same time, the fact that someone is in line for the Triple Crown and hasn’t run away with the award is a reminder of just how phenomenal Trout has been.

H/T Big League Stew
Photo credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Is Kate Upton dating Justin Verlander?

No, Ellen DeGeneres, Kate Upton is not dating Mark Sanchez. But she might be dating Justin Verlander.

Over the weekend, Upton was seen (drunk?) in Verlander’s suite at a Tigers game in Detroit. They were in that MLB 2k12 commercial together earlier this year, after all. So, it might have been a case of a friend simply hooking up a friend.

But there’s more to this picture that leads us to think they are more than friends. It turns out the supermodel and reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner were spotted together at an Aerosmith concert last Thursday. But wait, there’s even more! Following said Aerosmith concert, they were seen getting quite cozy with each other at a bar (sketchy photographic evidence here). More from CBS Detroit:

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Justin Verlander proves he eats Taco Bell night before starts (Picture)

We all know professional athletes have weird rituals and superstitions. For whatever reason, that is especially true for baseball players. When a starting pitcher tells us he loads up on In-N-Out Burger or eats fast food the night before a start, we typically take their word for it. But just in case you didn’t believe Justin Verlander when he said he eats Taco Bell the night before every one of his starts, the Tigers ace proved it via his Twitter account on Wednesday night — the night before Detroit’s opener against Boston.

The fact that Verlander can eat that stuff and get through a baseball game the following day is more impressive to me than watching him throw 100 mph in the ninth inning.

H/T Big League Stew
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Justin Verlander has his own ‘Fastball Flakes’ cereal (Picture)

When you win the A.L. Cy Young and have your name thrown into the discussion for A.L. MVP, this is the stuff that happens. Fear not, Tigers fans. This isn’t some sort of lame money-making scheme. According to the Detroit Free Press, sales from Justin Verlander’s “Fastball Flakes” cereal benefit VA Hospitals in Detroit and Ann Arbor. The cereal is being sold through PLB Sports (PLBSports.com), which is a Pittsburgh-based company that makes athlete-endorsed products that sold for charity.

You should buy Fastball Flakes if you’re looking to contribute to a good cause, but don’t confuse them with a cereal like Wheaties or anything like that. Eating these flakes will not guarantee that you can throw 101 mph in the 9th inning.

H/T Hardball Talk

Justin Verlander Eats Taco Bell the Night Before Every Start (Video)

Last season, Justin Verlander brought us one of the most dominant seasons we’ve seen from a pitcher in recent history.  Verlander would have liked a better result in the playoffs, but he mowed through the entire league during the regular season and placed himself in the MVP discussion.  In an era where pitchers rarely are able to pitch deep enough into games to win 20 games in a season, you might wonder how Verlander did it.  In an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show Wednesday night, the Tigers ace revealed one of his secrets: Taco Bell.  Check out this video that It’s Always Sunny in Detroit passed along:

Conan read my mind with the diarrhea comment.  I can’t remember a time when I’ve eaten Taco Bell and haven’t had to risk getting a speeding ticket to make it home without a crisis situation occurring in my car, let alone playing a baseball game the following day.  That being said, Verlander is not the first MLB starter to have a fast food addiction.  Remember Tim Lincecum’s insane In-N-Out Burger order?  Maybe the rest of us need to give saturated fat and calories more of a chance.

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.

Erick Aybar Bunted During Justin Verlander’s No-Hitter … So What

Baseball’s unwritten rules are about as important as RBIs and pitcher wins. They’re outdated and only hold limited significance. Those who value them cling to them with a kung-fu grip, failing to realize how arbitrary and sometimes pointless they are.

Justin Verlander apparently subscribes to them.

The Tigers pitcher was cruising yet again, going 7.2 innings of no-hit ball until Maicer Izturis broke it up with a line drive to left field. Four batters earlier, shortstop Erick Aybar got on base by dropping down a bunt Verlander threw into right field. Verlander was peeved that Aybar tried bunting to get aboard during his no-hitter. That violates one of the so-called “unwritten rules of the game.”

Jered Weaver, who was ejected for throwing at Alex Avila a batter after classless Carlos Guillen showed him up, summed up the Angels’ position perfectly. “We’re trying to score some runs off that guy and swinging obviously wasn’t doing it.”

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