The same question comes up every year around this time.  Should pitchers be considered as MVP candidates?  The debate has been raging recently around Detroit Tigers ace, Justin Verlander, who is having a great season this year.  Despite the season he is having, I still don’t believe pitchers should be candidates for the MVP award. 

Make no mistake about it, the role of a top-flight starter on any team is of vital importance.  They can single-handedly win a team 20 games a season and without their presence, most teams would be worse off.  They can stop losing streaks when it seems like nothing else can.  These things can make or break a team, but that shouldn’t make pitchers MVP candidates.

The last pitcher to win the MVP award was Dennis Eckersley in 1992 as the closer of the Oakland A’s.  Eckersley recorded 51 saves that season while posting a 1.91 ERA.

Roger Clemens was the last starter to win the award in 1986.  Clemens went 24-4, with a 2.48 ERA.

So clearly it’s happened before, but I respectfully disagree with those baseball writers who cast the votes that won the award for Eckersley and Clemens.   

Despite how important a front line starter is to a baseball team, at best, they will only impact about 30 or so games a year.  As far as a closer is concerned, sure they have more appearances, but their innings totals are much fewer than that of a starter.  Adding up Eckersley’s innings in 1992, he pitched a total of 80 that year.  When put back to back, that’s a combined total of about nine games.

That is simply not enough to be considered more valuable than a player who contributes to over 150 games a year.  Not to mention, as well as a starter can pitch, nobody will win any games if there are no runs scored.  That obvious fact alone expresses the importance of offensive players. 

The impact a pitcher has during a season is overshadowed by the daily contributions of offensive players.  As far as I’m concerned, there should be no debate on the subject and pitchers should automatically be excluded from the voting. 

We may never see a pitcher win the MVP in this day and age as many sports writers refuse to give any pitcher so much as a single vote for the award and rightfully so.  If baseball writers were more keen on making pitchers MVPs, I could make the argument that Mariano Rivera could have a few of them when comparing his numbers to Eckersley’s in 1992.  But because of my stance on the matter, you won’t hear me make that argument because it just isn’t valid when talking about the MVP award.

Besides, pitchers have the CY Young award for the best pitcher and I feel that is more than enough to show praise for the impact of a great starting pitcher.  I would be truly shocked if Justin Verlander was to win the MVP award.

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