Justin Verlander Propels Into AL MVP Odds Market

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Following a sterling performance on Tuesday evening in which he tossed six no-hit innings and struck out 10 batters, Justin Verlander has propelled himself into the Most Valuable Player race in the American League. The 38-year-old right-handed ace is listed at +15000 (150-1), per AL MVP odds at Caesars Sportsbook, to win his second MVP award.

The Houston Astros pitcher is 16-3 with a minuscule 1.87 ERA in 23 starts. It’s a remarkable stat line considering Verlander missed almost two years due to shoulder surgery. After making one start in April 2020, Verlander was shelved with arm soreness. He underwent Tommy John surgery that fall and missed the entire 2021 season.

Sportsbooks have Verlander as the favorite to win his third Cy Young Award. BetMGM has JV at -450, while Caesars is more conservative at -300, and DraftKings has him at -420. Chicago’s Dylan Cease and Tampa’s Shane McClanahan are listed as the top challengers to win the AL Cy Young, according to the most popular sportsbooks.

While +15000 odds translate to an implied probability of 0.66%, should Verlander beat the odds and win the MVP with a late-season push, he would accomplish something no pitcher has in more than 75 years — win an MVP award twice.

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How Much Would a Verlander MVP Pay Out?

At +15000 odds, a $50 winning wager on Verlander to win the AL MVP would return a $7,500 profit from Caesars Sportsbook. So far, even with his no-hit stuff earlier this week, Verlander is not among the MVP betting choices at many sportsbooks.

Astros pitcher Justin Verlander is in top form for Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Justin Verlander is now among the betting choices in AL MVP odds at Caesars (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

In 2011, when Verlander was a member of the Detroit Tigers, he posted a record of 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts. All three figures led the league, making Verlander a pitching triple crown winner. He earned AL MVP honors that season, taking 13 first-place votes to four by Jacoby Ellsbury, who finished second.

His current ERA of 1.87 would be the lowest figure of his long career, and it would be just the 14th time in the divisional era (since 1969) that a starting pitcher recorded a figure that low in a full season.

While wins are not regarded highly by awards voters as much as they once were, it will be difficult for baseball writers to ignore Verlander’s gaudy win-loss mark. It’s possible he could reach 20 wins for the third time in his career, and for the second time since joining the Astros in 2017.

Verlander’s stellar pitching in 2022 has helped the Astros to the best record in the AL and gives the talented team a chance to get to the AL Championship Series for a record sixth straight season.

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Verlander is already the most broadly decorated pitcher in baseball history. He is the only player to win the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, MVP, and a League Championship Series MVP award. The tall right-hander has also thrown three no-hitters. He ranks 13th all-time in strikeouts, and Verlander’s 242 victories are the fourth-highest by a hurler to debut since 1995.

Pitchers Who Won Most Valuable Player Award Twice

It’s rare enough for a pitcher to win a Most Valuable Player Award. Only 12 pitchers have won an MVP Award, including pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani in the American League in 2021.

Only two pitchers have won the MVP award twice:

  • Carl Hubbell, 1933 and 1936 National League MVP
  • Hal Newhouser, 1944 and 1945 American League MVP

That’s a long time ago, before I Love Lucy created the sitcom, for goodness’ sake. Still, it’s impressive that Hubbell and Newhouser, lefties both, were able to accomplish it. Both pitchers are in the Hall of Fame with their respective royal nicknames: “King Carl” and “Prince Hal.”

Back in those days, in the 1930s and 1940s when Hubbell and Newhosuer were toeing the rubber, pitchers had a larger impact on team success. In both of his MVP seasons, Hubbell pitched more than 300 innings for the Giants. In 1933, in addition to his 33 starts, he made 12 appearances as a reliever. In ’36 he pitched out of the pen eight times. This while he was completing 47 of his 67 starts in those MVP years. Talk about a rubber arm.

Newhouser won 51 games in his MVP seasons, which came in consecutive years. He went the distance in 54 of his 70 starts in those two banner seasons, including 14 shutouts. The Detroit southpaw also had the strength to save four games in 17 relief appearances. In ’45 he helped the Tigers to the World Series title.

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About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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