If the season ended today, it is unclear who would take home American League Cy Young Award honors.
The last also features Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, who at 15-1 and a 2.13 ERA is having a season that is almost in the same category as Verlander’s 2011 campaign. Tampa Bay’s David Price and surprising Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale also have numbers that a worthy of Cy Young consideration.
Here is a glance at the top five contenders for the esteemed hardware:
Like Verlander last season, Weaver’s numbers are amazingly microscopic. He has a 0.97 WHIP and a .192 batting average against to accompany his 15-1 record and 2.13 ERA.
Though he is not a strikeout pitcher – he has fanned 101 – the 29-year-old Weaver has allowed just 93 hits in 131 innings.
His 2012 resume also includes three complete games, two shutouts and a no-hitter.
The 27-year-old power left-hander finished second in Cy Young voting to Hernandez in 2010 when he was 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA.
He is 14-4 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP this year.
His record is especially impressive considering that the Rays are tied for last in the majors with a .231 average and have trouble scoring runs.
Price has 146 strikeouts in 148 innings, and he has permitted 119 hits and a .222 batting average against.
It would be difficult for anyone to match what Verlander did in 2011 when he was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and a .192 batting average against.
The 29-year-old right-hander’s record is not as strong – he is 12-7 – but the Tigers have not given him ample run support.
His other numbers are Cy Young worthy, like his 2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .205 batting average against, 166 strikeouts in 168.2 innings and six complete games.
A converted reliever who posted a 2.79 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 58 appearances as a rookie last year, Sale is a key reason why the White Sox sit atop the American League Central.
The 23-year-old left-hander has stepped up for an injury-ravaged rotation and produced a 13-3 record with a 2.59 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and a .217 batting average against in 132 innings, over which he has allowed 104 hits.
Sale was shut down for 10 days recently with a tired arm, but he returned on August 6 and earned a win by limiting Kansas City to two runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in eight innings.
Even with an anemic lineup behind him, the Mariners ace remains one of the most consistently dominant pitchers in the majors.
His team’s lack of hitting and success didn’t prevent Hernandez from winning the Cy Young in 2010, when he was 13-12 but logged a 2.27 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, a .212 batting average against and 232 strikeouts in 249.2 innings.
If Weaver and Price were not having such standout seasons, chances are Hernandez would have another opportunity to win a Cy Young with a marginal record.
This year, he is 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, a .231 batting average against and 159 strikeouts in 164 innings.
Based on their numbers and circumstances, it appears that Weaver and Price are the two leading candidates for the Cy Young.
Weaver not only has astonishingly superb numbers, but he also tossed a no-hitter, which is one of the most difficult feats in all of sports. Price supporters point to his 14 wins on a team that rarely scores more than three or four runs in a game.
Like Verlander was in 2011, though, Weaver has separated himself from the other contenders because of a performance that is so good he will have trouble duplicating again.