Rookie of the Year? Cy Young Award winner? Is it all too much heavy-breathing to speculate that Twins superstud Francisco Liriano could win both this year? The 22-year old lefty from the Dominican Republic (a.k.a. the MLB spermlab) has 12 wins, a .97 WHIP, and an AL-best 1.93 ERA—almost a full run better than second-place Justin Verlander (2.77) and exactly one run better than third-place John Lackey (2.93…duh). He only pitched 5 innings in yesterday’s win over the Cleveland Indians, but he struck out 10 batters, notching his third two-digit strikeout game of the season. He has 125 Ks in 107 innings, but his team is 9.5 games out of first.
But if he wants the big prizes at season’s end, he’s going to have to fight off 23-year old Jered Weaver (yes, little bro of Jeff…though perhaps Jeff will soon become the “Ramon Martinez” of the duo). The Angels’ righty has an even more kickass ERA (1.15) and an even more ridiculous WHIP (.79), though a late start to the season means he doesn’t yet have enough innings to qualify for the rankings. But in the stat that matters most, he’s untopped: as of yesterday, he’s the first rookie in 25 years to win his first seven starts. And the Angels are just a game out of first.
By those standards, 23-year old Tiger Justin Verlander looks like an also-ran. I mean, his ERA is almost 3! And his WHIP is over 1! A record of 12 and 4? Dude, my mom could go 12 and 4. (Just kidding Mom. You’d be 16-0!) But to his credit, of these three rookies only Verlander’s team is currently in first, and with a cushy 6.5-game lead, too. If an end-of-year prize comes down to Liriano vs. Verlander, that could tip the scales. After all, how studly are you if your team doesn’t make the playoffs?