Justin Verlander has had a fantastic season for the Detroit Tigers as he has pretty much been the only consistent starter for the Tigers the entire season. Doug Fister has been supberb since being acquired by the Mariners on July 30th and has gone 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA in nine starts for the Tigers.

Currently Verlander has won 12 starts in-a-row and it's hard to argue with what he's done this season in 33 starts. He's got a 24-5 record, with an AL leading 2.29 ERA, he's thrown four complete games and two shutouts, leads the American League in innings with 244, has allowed 166 hits, while striking out 244 and walking 56.

With those gaudy numbers it would seem that Verlander should be running away with the Cy Young Award and there's even been talk of Verlander being the American League Most Valuable Player as well. Yet, it's hard to argue that James Shields hasn't had a better season than Verlander.

In 2010 when Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award it proved that wins aren't a good measuring stick of the success of a pitcher and that is the case for 2011 as well. Shields has made 31 starts so far this season for the Tampa Bay Rays and he has been outstanding.

He has gone 15-11 with a 2.78 ERA, he has thrown 11 complete games and four shutouts, pitched 233.1 innings, while giving up 183 hits and has struck out 214 while walking 60.

Ignoring the win-loss totals it means that Shields has seven more complete games than and two more shutouts. That differenctial is hard to overlook in the Cy Young race even if Verlander has the better ERA than Shields.

Also, looking at splits Shields has made 17 starts against teams above .500 he has a record of 9-6 with a 2.04 ERA, with six complete games and two shutouts, while striking out 121 and walking 35.

Verlander in 14 starts has a record of 8-2 with a 2.24 ERA, three complete games and two shutouts, and has struck out 107 while walking 26.

That means against the better teams in the league Shields has the better ERA, has more starts, more wins, more complete games, same amount of shutouts and more strikeouts.

For Verlander what has made his season spectacular is that he's beaten the teams that are below .500 he's made 19 starts he has a record of 16-3 with a 2.32 ERA, with one complete game, and has struck out 137 while walking 30.

Shields against teams under .500 has had his ups and downs he's made 14 starts and has gone 6-5 with a 3.74 ERA, he's thrown five complete games and two shutouts, and has struckout 93 while walking 25.

Of course Verlander's numbers look far greater against teams under .500 because he's made five more starts than Shields against them, yet even with that domination Shields still has Verlander beat with four more complete games and two more shutouts.

It's hard to believe that Shields gets very little mention towards the Cy Young Award when he's had a tremendous year, he's pitched in a tougher division the American League East and he continues to pitch lights out against the best lineups in baseball.

Verlander has been great as well yet the Cy Young Award should at least be close as both Verlander and Shields are deserving. The edge though should go to Shields because of his ability to complete games.


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