DETROIT -- Justin Verlander knows that voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award ended a month and a half ago. That wasn't going to stop him from carrying on the debate one final time last week.
Not surprisingly, Verlander strongly believes a pitcher should be considered for MVP awards, just like any other player. The fact that he has a detailed argument would be a surprise for most, but not for him. After the obligatory congratulations for his AL Cy Young Award, his teleconference for that honor became his spot to make one last pitch before the voting results are announced on Monday at 2 p.m. ET.
"Pitchers are on the ballot. We are players," Verlander said. "I've talked about it."
So has his manager. Jim Leyland doesn't necessarily agree that pitchers should be on the ballot. As long as they are, however, he believes Verlander is worthy of MVP.
"He definitely deserves it," Leyland said last week. "I hope he gets it. I hope [voters with the Baseball Writers' Association of America] adhere to the policy which they go by. And if they do, I think he's going to get it.
"If a pitcher's allowed to win MVP, he should definitely win it."
In Verlander's mind, it's logical that pitchers should be on the ballot. He'll surrender the point about pitchers, especially starters, not playing in nearly as many games as position players. He makes his case on the impact starting pitchers make on the games they play. For him, they're overwhelmingly the determining factor between victory and defeat.
"Two arguments: One is the tremendous effect that we have on the day of our game," Verlander said. "If we have a bad day, 95 percent of the time we're gonna lose. If we have a good day, 85-90 percent of the time we're gonna win."
By contrast, he argued, a slugger can have a three-homer game in defeat.
As big as that impact is, of course, it only happens every five games or so. Verlander's point, though, is that a good start not only determines the course of that game, it can determine the course of the next game -- maybe even beyond that. By delivering a deep start, the starter keeps the bullpen rested to go in the next game.
The way Verlander pitched consistently deep outings -- he delivered at least seven innings in 26 out of 34 starts -- his impact extended to the game before Verlander's starts. With that regularity, the only relievers who could count on work in Verlander's starts were closer Jose Valverde, who saved 13 of Verlander's 24 wins, and setup man Joaquin Benoit.
The last point of Verlander's argument might have been the most interesting, because it spoke to the current trends of voters.
"For me, the trend recently for the Cy Young has gone to the best statistical pitcher," Verlander suggested on Tuesday. "And for me, I think that bolsters the case for the MVP. Now, it's not the most valuable pitcher. It's the best statistical pitcher, which is a totally different thing. And like I said, that bolsters the case."
Whether the Cy Young was ever simply about the most valuable pitcher for most voters is debatable. Statistical dominance has always played a role. But the last two years of voting have suggested that the pure pitching is the key, not simply the results that come out of it. Neither Zack Greinke nor Felix Hernandez finished anywhere near the league wins leaders, nor did their work come on contending teams. Their awards were won on outstanding pitching performances -- ERA, strikeouts and secondary stats.
Because of that, Verlander suggested, there's no place for the most valuable pitcher unless he's considered in the MVP debate. And in a year when there's no clear-cut MVP-type effort from position players, it could be enough to win.
"I feel like, personally, I had a great effect on the Detroit Tigers," Verlander said. "But I feel like a lot of other people had a great effect. I look at Curtis Granderson, who's a friend of mine. If I don't win it, I'd like to see him [win]. I look at [Jacoby] Ellsbury."
He looks at the resumes, he said, and he sees greatness. But he also sees flaws.
"Maybe I can sneak in the back door," Verlander said.
He won't have to wait much longer to find out.