The 100 Greatest Athletes of the Complex Decade

31. Justin Verlander

Sport: Baseball
Bonafides From 2002-2012: 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award Winner, 4x All-Star
So you throw baseballs for a living and you're looking to join a fraternity. The rules are you have to win an MVP to be in the club. This is a big deal because pitchers—being that they only play every five days if they're a starter, only an inning or two if they're a reliever—very rarely make the cut. Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax: you're in. Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera? You're out. Justin Verlander? Climb on into the treehouse, you're a member. Verlander's 2011 season, in which he put the American League in a headlock to the tune of 250 strikeouts, 24 wins, and a .92 WHIP (thereby uniting the SABREs and the TROGLOs for a moment) would qualify him for this list in itself, but his body of work (107 wins through his age-28 season) suggest he might be something more: the greatest pitcher of his generation.

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