Snub by Cy Young Award voters could have impact on Verlander’s legacy

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For the second time, Justin Verlander finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting in 2016.

Have you ever seen so many Detroit Tigers and former Detroit Tigers involved in a Cy Young vote?

It was pretty astonishing to sit back and think that 2016 Cy Young winners Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer were on the Tigers just a couple of years ago, not to mention Justin Verlander, who was again runner-up for the award.

The Tigers rotation in the past five years has now consisted of four Cy Young winners (Verlander, Scherzer, David Price, Porcello), not to mention Anibal Sanchez, who has a no-hitter to his credit and won the ERA title the year Scherzer won the Cy Young for Detroit.

And now Michael Fulmer is the Rookie of the Year.

Few teams in baseball history can put that number of starting pitchers in that many awards in a 25-year period, let alone five.

Of course, if a couple of votes went different ways, Verlander could be a three-time winner and Porcello and Price would not be on that list.

Porcello absolutely deserved the 2016 AL Cy Young…but Verlander deserved it more.

Last week’s vote is one of the most controversial votes in baseball history: Verlander’s former teammate won the Cy Young Award last Wednesday despite receiving just eight of the 30 first-place votes.

On the flip side, Verlander got 14 of the first-place votes — by far the most of any pitcher on the ballot.

The controversy was not that Porcello won — he had an outstanding season (22 wins, 3.15 ERA) — but it was how it happened. He barely edged Verlander (16-9, 2.40 ERA and AL-leading 254 strikeouts and 6.6 WAR) 137-132 in the total voting.

Verlander’s name was left off of two writer’s ballots completely, meaning they didn’t even have Verlander in their top five — at the same time that 14 writers had him as No. 1.

In my opinion, you could make the case for four different AL pitchers winning the award — Verlander, Porcello, Corey Kluber and Baltimore closer Zach Britton. Just those four. That leaves an extra spot in the top five for someone to join the mix. So for Verlander to be out of anyone’s top five is just ludicrous (for any of those four to be out of anyone’s top five is crazy).

Unfortunately, this is becoming a gut-wrenching pattern for Verlander, who has one Cy Young to his name, but could easily have three.

There are only two years in Cy Young voting history that the margin was five points or fewer and Verlander was runner-up both times.

In 2012, he lost out to another former teammate David Price by four points, though that was much closer at the top with Price receiving 14 first-place votes to Verlander’s 13.

The worst part is that, looking down the road, these narrow misses could come up big when Verlander is up for the Baseball Hall of Fame. We all know how controversial Hall of Fame voting already has been for fans of the Tigers.

There have been no pitchers eligible for the Hall of Fame with three Cy Young Awards not to make it, with the exception of seven-time winner Roger Clemens, who is a suspected user of performance-enhancing drugs.

So, if the 2012 and most recent votes had gone a different way, Verlander would be a virtual lock for Cooperstown.

It will be interesting to see what happens when his name does appear on the ballot for Cooperstown and what he does in the next few years leading up to it.

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About Dan D'Addona

A Michigan native who grew up rooting for the Tigers, Red Wings, Lions, and Pistons, Dan D'Addona is sports editor for the Holland Sentinel. He is the author of "In Cobb's Shadow: The Hall of Fame Careers of Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann and Heinie Manush."