Links: Can a pitcher win the MVP Award?

In his blog this morning, Buster Olney wrote that Justin Verlander would be his choice for AL MVP: "If I had a vote today, I'd pick Verlander. No player has made a bigger difference to his team than the right-hander. On the days he has pitched, the Tigers are 12 games over .500; on the days he hasn't pitched, they are a .500 team."

VerlanderVerlanderOn his blog, Joe Posnanski reveals that he has an actual vote this year and would consider Verlander, although Jose Bautista is his guy right now. On Tuesday's Baseball Today podcast, Jim Caple -- also the owner of a vote -- says he would also consider Verlander. After all, as Jim pointed out, the rules says both position players and pitchers should be considered for the award.

The reality, of course, is different. The last pitcher to win an MVP Award was A's closer Dennis Eckersley in 1992 -- an absurd selection, as Posnanski mentions. The last starting pitcher to win was Roger Clemens of the Red Sox in 1986. In fact, in recent years, voters have all but ignored pitchers, especially starting pitchers. The only starting pitcher to receive a first-place vote in the past decade was Johan Santana of the Twins in 2006, when he received one. The last starting pitcher to finish in the top five in the voting was Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox in 2000, when he finished fifth. Pedro finished a controversial second to Ivan Rodriguez in 1999, even though he received more first-place votes, as some writers left him entirely off their ballots.

This AL vote is shaping up a lot like that 1999 AL vote, when Rodriguez edged out Martinez, Manny Ramirez and Roberto Alomar. Like 1999, we have several candidates with no clear favorite. Is this the year a pitcher can win?

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