Here is the latest installment of the coundown of the 10 greatest ballplayers ever from Virginia. We turn to #2
#10 1B George McQuinn (Arlington)
#9 SS Gene Alley (Richmond)
#8 OF Michael Cuddyer (Chesapeake)
#7 OF Jim Lemon (Covington)
#6 OF Tony Womack (Danville)
#5 OF Al Bumbry (Fredericksburg)
#4 3B David Wright (Chesapeake)
#3 SP Eppa Rixey (Culpeper)
#2 SP Justin Verlander (Manakin-Sabot)
Justin Verlander grew up in Goochland County, a suburb of Richmond, Virginia’s Capital City, and is already a very accomplished pitcher at the age of 31. Verlander played three years at ODU, during which time he set single game, single-season and career Strikeout records, as well as CAA single-season and State of Virginia career records.
Verlander was picked 2nd overall in the 2004 draft by the Tigers, and a year later on Independence Day, made his major league debut. He went 0-2 with a dismal 7.15 ERA, but the following year, he exploded. His 2006 rookie season resulted in AL ROY honors as he catapulted the Tigers to the World Series for the first time in 22 years. Verlander even got the start in Game 1.
2007 did not see a sophomore slump as he won 18 games, made the AL all-star team, and on June 12 of that year he threw a no-hitter against the Brewers while K’ing 12. he thus became the first pitcher in Major League history to win ROY, start a World Series game, throw a no-hitter and be an all-star in his first 2 major league seasons.
2008 did see a dropoff as he won only 11 games and finished with an ERA near 5.
2009 was a nice rebound as he won 19 games and notched 269 SO, both leading MLB. (His Strikeout total was the most by a Tigers P since Mickey Lolich in 1971.) This was also the first of 5 consecutive AL all-star teams he would make.
2010 saw him win 18 more games as well as gain financial security, as he signed a 5-year extension worth $80 million.
2011 might be labeled his best season in MLB, and one that really filled up his mantle with trophies. He was AL MVP, won the Cy Yound award, became the first AL pitcher in 5 years to win the pitching Triple Crown (2.40 ERA, 24 wins, 250 SO all leading league), was named Sporting News player of the Year, Sporting News pitcher of the Year, Players Choice Player of the Year, Players Choice Most Outstanding Pitcher, and was named Cover Athlete of MLB 2K12. On June 25th of that season, he notched a career high 14 SO, and on May 7, he threw his second no-hitter. (In his next start, he threw 5 no-hit innings before allowing a hit). He had two other starts in June in which he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before allowing a hit. He notched his 1000th career SO (15th Tiger to do so), and his 100th win as well in 2011. His 24 wins made him the first Tiger in 20 years to win 20.
In 2012, he led the league in SO and helped get the Tigers back to the World Series.
In 2013, he helped get the Tigers back to the playoffs for the third straight season, but the Tigers were eliminated by Boston in the ALCS.
At the age of 31, Justin Verlander has a record of 143-84, a career 3.49 ERA, a 1740 SO. On the Tigers all-time win list, he is 8th in wins, 4th in SO. he also holds 2 of the Tigers Top 10 single-season strikeout records. In addition, only twice has he ever had a full season with a winning percentage under .600.