Maturing, dominant Verlander a must-see act
Tigers ace a no-hitter waiting to happen nearly every time out
We can apply any number of sabermetric means to judge a ballplayer's influence. We can use adjusted OPS or adjusted ERA to gauge his numbers relative to the league average while taking ballpark factors into account. We can use WAR to measure his value over that of a Minor League replacement. We can use TPR to compare players from different positions and eras.But while the modern metrics have their place and most definitely have value, sometimes a player is best evaluated the old-fashioned way -- a simple yes or no query that goes as follows: If he came to your town, would you be compelled to pay your hard-earned cash to watch him play? I don't know which answer Justin Verlander inspired from you in years past, but I feel fairly certain the affirmatives are winning out in a landslide in 2011. It's not often, after all, that a guy takes the mound every fifth day legitimately looking like a no-hitter on the horizon. Verlander is 28 years old and he's already tossed two no-nos -- a feat accomplished by just a dozen other men in baseball history. Not since Nolan Ryan was a pitcher, not a president, have we had a better bet to flirt with history as a matter of routine. And as attractive as the possibility of near-perfection is, Verlander, who takes the mound Thursday afternoon against the Mets at Comerica Park, offers plenty to appreciate on even his ordinary days. Over his past four starts, Verlander has allowed two runs in 34 innings, striking out 41 and walking just three. In a 10-start stretch dating back to his May 7 no-hitter in Toronto, he's 8-0 with a 1.56 ERA, a .155 batting average against, 10 walks and 73 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.
|"He's a horse. He's getting better by the day. It's a pretty nice horse to be sending out there every five days."|
-- Tigers manager|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.