JUSTIN BROOKS VERLANDER
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Nickname:   N/A Position:   RHP
Home: N/A Team:   TIGERS
Height: 6' 5" Bats:   R
Weight: 220 Throws:   R
DOB: 2/20/1983 Agent: Relativity Sports-Mark Pieper
Uniform #: 35  
Birth City: Manakin-Sabot, VA
Draft: Tigers #1 - 2004 - Out of Old Dominion Univ. (VA)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2005 FSL LAKELAND   13 86 70 104 19 13 2 0 0 9 2   1.67
2005 EL ERIE   7 33 11 32 7 7 0 0 0 2 0   0.28
2005 AL TIGERS $316.00 2 11 15 7 5 2 0 0 0 0 2   7.15
2006 AL TIGERS   30 186 187 124 60 30 1 1 0 17 9 0.266 3.63
2007 AL TIGERS $1,030.00 32 201.2 181 183 67 32 1 1 0 18 6 0.233 3.66
2008 AL TIGERS $1,130.00 33 201 195 163 87 33 1 0 0 11 17 0.254 4.84
2009 AL TIGERS $3,675.00 35 240 219 269 63 35 3 1 0 19 9 0.243 3.45
2010 AL TIGERS $6,850.00 33 224.1 190 219 71 33 4 0 0 18 9 0.228 3.37
2011 AL TIGERS $12,850.00 34 251 174 250 57 34 4 2 0 24 5 0.192 2.40
2012 AL TIGERS $20,100.00 33 238.1 192 239 60 33 6 1 0 17 8 0.217 2.64
2013 AL TIGERS $20,100.00 34 218.1 212 217 75 34 0 0 0 13 12 0.253 3.46
2014 AL TIGERS $20,100.00 32 206 223 159 65 32 0 0 0 15 12 0.275 4.54
2015 AL TIGERS $28,000.00 20 133.1 113 113 32 20 1 1 0 5 8 0.229 3.38
2015 IL TOLEDO   2 8.1 10 12 2 2 0 0 0 0 0   3.24
2016 AL TIGERS $28,000.00 34 227.2 171 254 57 34 2 0 0 16 9 0.207 3.04
2017 AL TIGERS $28,000.00 15 87.2 84 86 43 15 0 0 0 4 4 0.249 4.52
Personal
  • When he was in Little League, Justin had trouble knowing where the ball was going when it left his hand.

    "I was throwing off a 45-foot (away) mound, and parents got so mad because I used to his so many kids," Verlander said. "Kids would start to cry on deck before facing me. In one game, I hit the same kid in his first two at-bats. He quit baseball after that game. Thankfully, in the next couple of years I started throwing strikes."

  • When Justin was growing up in Manakin Sabot, Virginia, population 4,043, he watched the Orioles.

    Verlander has since moved to Goochland, Virginia, a much bigger (ahem) city of 16,863. Justin says it is an "everybody-knows-everybody-town. There's a lot of farmland. A restaurant there has the Verlander Burger, but they didn't consult me before they made it. It has raw onions and tomatoes, and I don't like either one."

  • Verlander has always had an incredible right arm. "When he was 9 years old, we were throwing rocks into a pond," his father Richard recalls. "I picked up one and threw it as far as I could, which was about halfway across. Justin picked up a rock, and he threw it all the way across to the other side."

    Now, Verlander can throw a baseball on a line from end zone to end zone on a football field.  (Will Kimmey-Baseball America-4/12/04)

  • To say that Verlander is a creature of habit doesn't give him enough credit. He's a champion at it. It's the way Verlander's parents got him to focus his talents as an energetic kid growing up in Virginia, and the way he built his game and become most of the most formidable competitors in any sport today.

    "He likes order, structure," his mother, Kathy, said during the summer of 2012. "And so that's the way we parented him."

  • In 2003, Verlander led the Colonial Athletic Association with a 1.90 ERA and had 139 strikeouts—setting a new Old Dominion school record. And he set a school mark with 17 strikeouts against James Madison.

    In 2004, he broke his own Old Dominion strikeout record, with 151, and also set a new Colonial Athletic Association record. He was 7-6 for the third straight year to go with a 3.49 ERA. However, he had two more appealing stats. He set a school record with 151 strikeouts in 105 2/3 innings this season after fanning 139 over 116 1/3 innings as a sophomore.

    "Here's a side not for you," Justin said. "In college, I walked a lot of guys. I walked the same amount of guys every year in college—43 guys, three years in a row. Consistent!" he says, laughing.

    CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE TIGERS

  • In June 2004, the Tigers took Jason with their #1 pick (and the second pick overall in the draft). But in October 2004, the Tigers broke off all negotiations with Verlander.

    "I am very, very disappointed," Tigers scouting director Greg Smith said on October 14. "We are notifying Justin that, per our discussions and where we are, we are withdrawing all our offers. We do not have any plans of signing him. This is no ploy."

    Smith said the gap between the sides on Verlander's signing bonus was "substantial," even though the Tigers significantly improved their original offer. Based on the bonuses that the Tigers and other clubs have given high first-round picks in recent years, it's reasonable to believe Detroit offered Verlander close to $3 million, if not more.

    Finally, on October 22, 2004, Verlander signed a five-year contract with the Tigers and scout Greg Smith. It was worth around $4.5 million. It included a $3.12 signing bonus. It was only after his father, Richard, became involved. Justin's father, a union representative, said his background in negotiations came in handy, and that helped restart talks between the sides.

    "I just felt like that had been missing, and I wanted to reach out to the Tigers myself," Richard Verlander said. "We knew that Justin wanted to be a Tiger, and after the draft, we were prepared to just let the process run its course. Never did we think that things would get to the point where the offer is being withdrawn."

    Richard Verlander said Milchin still was his son's agent, but he wouldn't discuss what he thought of the agent's role in the stalled negotiations. Why didn't Verlander's father handle negotiations from the start? "I know I'm too close to the situation," he said. "Generally a doctor's patients aren't his own family."

  • When Justin was in the 10th grade, he made a deal with his friend, Daniel Hicks.

    "I wanted a chocolate milk that cost 50 cents, and I didn't have the money. So I said, 'How about I give you one percent of my pro signing bonus if you give me 50 cents now?' He found a napkin, wrote it up, and I signed it. I forgot about it, but after I signed, he comes over and whips out this old napkin. I'm like, 'Oh my God!' My bonus was three-point-something million. "Was a chocolate milk worth $3,000? I want to say yes. I was parched," Verlander said. (Ben Reiter-Sports Illustrated-5/28/07)

  • In 2005, Verlander led the minors in ERA (giving up only one run in 33 innings at Double-A Erie), started the Futures Game in Comerica Park, and made his Major League debut at Jacobs Field on Independence Day.

  • During the off-season before 2005 spring training, Baseball America rated Verlander as the third best prospect in the Tigers organization. But before 2006 spring camp opened, they ranked him as the #1 prospect in the Detroit farm system.

  • Justin enjoys playing golf in his spare time.

  • In 2006, Verlander was named the American League Rookie of the Year.

  • Verlander's June 12, 2007 no-hitter was the first for the Tigers since Jack Morris threw one on the road in 1984. But Justin became the first Detroit Tiger pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Detroit since Virgil Trucks did it on May 15, 1952. Trucks, who turned 90 in April 2007, presented Justin with a award prior to the Tigers' game against the Red Sox on July 8, 2007. Joe Ginsberg, who was the catcher for Trucks' no-hitter, was also there to present Pudge Rodriguez with an award for his part in the historic outing.

  • Justin Verlander's younger brother Ben joined him in the clubhouse on June 17, 2007. The two share a common bond: They both threw a no-hitter in 2007. Ben, who was 15 years old at the time, threw his for the Goochland High School (Va.) junior varsity team against Amelia County High School. He was asked to compare that with the elder Verlander's, which came against the Brewers.

    "I didn't need any great diving plays," he said. In case a little joking from his brother wasn't enough, there was also another incident earlier Monday. While walking with teammates Magglio Ordonez and Zach Miner, the three were stopped by a security guard who asked to see their IDs. Ordonez and Miner had theirs, but Verlander didn't. The man who was the talk of the nation just one week ago wasn't recognized by the guard. After a couple minutes, he was allowed to rejoin his teammates, but not without another round of joking. "I guess a no-hitter doesn't mean anything to these guys," Miner said. (Michael Phillips, MLB.com, 6/18/07)

  • Justin Verlander's first no-hitter didn't go unnoticed in the nation's capital. 

    President George W. Bush hosted Verlander in the White House's Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. The two talked for about 20 minutes, with the main topic of conversation being baseball.

    "'I was very nervous before I went in there,' Verlander said. 'I mean, you're visiting the President in the Oval Office. But he was a very personable guy, and it was a very natural conversation.'

    "The nation's leader is also a huge baseball fan, dating back to the days when he owned the Texas Rangers. He spoke knowledgeably with Verlander about several members of the Tigers, and congratulated the pitcher on his no-hitter, saying that he was able to watch portions of the game.

    "He also asked about the current Tigers who were part of his Texas team, including Kenny Rogers and Ivan Rodriguez.

    " 'He's a huge baseball fan,' Verlander said. 'He really knew who everybody was. We talked about baseball and about our team, and he knew pretty much everybody on the team.'

    The afternoon visit began with Verlander eating lunch with a friend of his in the White House mess hall. He said the food was prepared by one of the White House chefs, and was "unbelievable."

    "We went in, he talked a little bit about the Oval Office, some of the history and the paintings and the desk he has," Verlander said.

    Verlander received a few souvenirs from the day, including a photo of him and the President, a tie clip, and golf balls with the Presidential seal.  (Michael Phillips, 6/20/07, MLB.com)

  • Justin says he chose uniform number 35, "because of Frank Thomas. When I was a kid (in Manakin Sabot, Virginia, population 3,800), the first time I had to pick my number was in Little League. There was a box of jerseys, and the coach goes, 'All right. Who wants what number?' I settled on Thomas because he could hit, and he's one of those guys everybody likes."

    Once Verlander got ot Goochland High, however, he had to rethink the 35. "The numbers didn't go that high," Justin said. "I had number 4." The high school retired that uniform #4 because of his high school exploits.

    "When I got to the Majors, I was number 35 again," Verlander said. "And when I face Frank (Thomas) for the first time, it was a full-circle moment. I stepped off the emound and was like, 'Holy crap!' I got him out (on a fly to center). My girlfriend got me an autographed bat of his, to symbolize how it's come full circle." (Sports Illustrated-8/06/07)

  • People that know Justin know he drives really fast. Where does he take his Porsche to drive fast?

    Laughing, Verlander says with a laugh, "Uh—the track? It just depends when I feel like going fast. I try not to get caught." How fast have you been? "175," Justin said. Where? "Don't worry about it," he responded.

  • Teammate and good friend Jeremy Bonderman was interviewed by Steve Greenberg of The Sporting News during 2010 spring training, and said, "The thing is, Justin doesn't care what anybody thinks of him. I'll say it—he's really cocky; but he's cocky all the time, whether he's pitching great or struggling. As much as you might want to ride him for it, he's not one of those people who's going to change who he is just to please other people. It's one of the things I like about him most.

    "During the spring, we eat dinner together, go golfing, play paintball. We drive to a theme park in Orlando and go on this slingshot ride and a big free-fall ride. We hang out off the field probably four times a week," Bonderman said.

    "I absolutely will not ride in Justin's car. He drives crazy—he has that need for speed. He loves his Porsch. I think I value my life a little more than he does right now," Jeremy said.

    "Justin works harder than anybody I've ever met. When he runs, he pushes himself to the point he almost pukes. When he lifts, he gets so focused an intense. From the day he got to the big leagues, he's said he wants to be a Hall of Famer. That's confidence. No one has more of that than Justin."

  • Justin threw his second no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, 2011.  (Associated Press 5/7/2011)

  • On May 16, 2011, Verlander announced the creation of Verlander's Victory for Veterans program. Verlander will use his personal suite at Comerica Park to host local veterans who suffered injuries serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as their families.

    "He wants to ... commend and congratulate and honor the sacrifice and dedication that all of our veterans have shown, [those] recently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "And for everything that they do for our country, he's here to thank them through this program."

    "Thanks to the Tigers organization and Mr. [team owner Mike] Ilitch, I have the opportunity to have a suite here at the ballpark," Verlander said. "And the first time I had the opportunity to use the suite, my girlfriend Emily, did, it was one of my first starts here at home, and it didn't go very well. So me and Emily, both being somewhat superstitious, decided that that's never going to happen again. The suite is not going to be used on my start days."

    While on the field just before a game, Verlander continued, he noticed the recent Tigers tradition of having a veteran bring the game ball to the mound and be recognized by the crowd. It's a cause that hits home for him becuase he has a cousin, Christopher Verlander, deployed in Afghanistan. His grandfather, Richard Verlander, is a World War II veteran.

    "We decided that it would be a good idea to let them use the suite on days I'm not using it," Verlander said. "Why not, just to say my appreciation and say my thank-you? The feedback we got was tremendous. I got so many letters and responses, not just because of the injured veterans or whoever was using the suite at the time, but their families as well. They got to share this moment with their family, which is not something that happens very often."

    The result was a formal program. The suite holds about 18 people, which allows for up to three veterans and their families to use it for a game.

  • In 2011, Verlander won the American League Cy Young Award by a unanimous vote.

    And a week later, after weeks of controversial conversation, it was announced that Verlander was the American League MVP also—the first starting pitcher in a quarter-century to win the MVP. The A's Dennis Eckersley won the MVP in 1992, but Boston's Roger Clemens was the last starting pitcher MVP, back in 1986.

    Justin received 13 of 28 first-place votes. Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury was second, followed by Toronto's Jose Bautista.

  • Richard and Kathy Verlander were finishing a book, Rocks Across the Pond, while Justin was months away from putting the finishing touches on a glorious season for the Tigers.

    "After I retired in January 2011, we started speaking to a lot of youth groups, young athletes, and their parents," Richard Verlander said. "We noticed that there's a lot of information available for athletes in regards to the game—like playing and lessons and getting better. But we often lamented the fact that there wasn't more in the way of a roadmap for parents.

    "So we thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of our stories and ideas with other parents coming along with kids, but not necessarily just all baseball players."

    Richard and Kathy Verlander's other son and Justin’s brother, Ben, recently completed his sophomore season at Old Dominion and will be playing summer ball for the Staunton Braves of the Valley Baseball League. (June 2012)

  • In 2012, Verlander was getting around in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with a 563-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine.

  • Verlander's cuisine of choice the night before he pitches for the Tigers. His order from Taco Bell is three crunchy taco supremes, a cheesy gordito crunch, and a Mexican pizza, no tomato-never varies. And the level of his performance the next day rarely does either.

  • March 2013: Justin's historic futility at the plate is contrasted, however, by his collegiate brother's recent power explosion. Playing for Old Dominion University (which is Justin's alma mater as well), Ben Verlander went 4-for-4 with three home runs in ODU's game against Northeastern.

  • April 1, 2013 was Verlander's sixth straight Opening Day start.

  • Verlander has been known to blurt out exclamations in frustration on the mound. He does it the first time he takes the mound during spring training workouts, so of course he’s going to do it during a game. His parents got him to cover his mouth with his glove when he can so that lip-readers can’t pick it up on TV.

  • Former Red Sox and current MLB Network personality Kevin Milar says Justin is the best non-PGA golfer he has ever played with.

  • The hitter in the Verlander family paid a visit to Comerica Park late in May, 2013. It wasn't a pre-Draft workout for Old Dominion slugger Ben Verlander, whose three-homer game put his name in scouts' notebooks. Instead, it's a week to visit his big brother along with their parents while the Tigers are home.

    It also was an opportunity for more hitting work with Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, who helped the younger Verlander on his swing last summer.

    "Coach McClendon has really helped me with my swing a lot," young Verlander said. "I came up here last summer (2012) and took it into this season. He helped me a whole lot. Just coming back and being able to work with him in the cages and getting out on the field with him is great."

    Being able to rub it in to his brother might be even better. He just finished his junior season with a .367 average, 11 home runs and 44 RBIs, earning him all-conference honors. Three of those homers came against Northeastern on March 9, which had Justin Verlander gushing.

    "I actually haven't given him any grief about it," Ben Verlander said. "He's actually been the one. I read in an article that he admitted I was the better hitter. He's never admitted I was the better anything, so to see that was pretty crazy."

    To see people suggesting that the younger Verlander could get a hit in the big leagues before his big brother is crazier.

    "That's kind of the family joke now," he said with a laugh. "I still like to give him a hard time about it."  (Jason Beck / MLB.com / 5-23-13)

  • Justin bought his father his dream car (Corvette). His father then purchased a license plate for it that read " MVP Dad."

  • Verlander has in his lucky past a rumored romance with supermodel/board-certified attractive American lady Kate Upton.

  • Justin finally received his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster in 2014. He had paid almost $400,000 for it. The max speed is 215 mph. "I've been waiting for it for like two years, so when I got it, I was like a kid at Christmas," Verlander said. He also has a Mazarotti.

  • August 2014: Tigers players usually spend the third weekend in August trying to avoid the traffic of the Woodward Dream Cruise. Verlander, an avid car collector, apparently took a drive right in the middle of it.

    Verlander tweeted a video from Instagram from what looks like his orange Lamborghini driving down Woodward Avenue and looking at the classic cars in the cruising lane.  He has been looking for a classic American muscle car.

    The Woodward Dream Cruise is an August tradition in the suburbs north of Detroit. Hundreds of thousands people gather as classic car enthusiasts come in to drive their prized vehicles down Woodward, honoring a tradition that goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. The Dream Cruise runs through the suburbs of Birmingham and Royal Oak, where several players stay during the season. (Jason Beck - MLB.com - 8/16/2014)

  • September 3, 2014:  Verlander has addressed the nude photos of him and girlfriend Kate Upton that were allegedly hacked from an online in an account posted on the Internet. Justin declined comment on the situation.

  • Verlander has been a noted workout fiend ever since he broke into the big leagues for good in 2006. He also has been meticulous about his workouts, taking note of how he feels physically as each season goes on and then adjusting his offseason program to address changes. Part of that comes from his parents, who used the daily routine to channel his energy in school.

  • March 31, 2016: Justin used to threaten his younger brother, Ben, about what would happen if they ever faced each other.  "I've always told him my whole life I'm going to hit him," he joked.

    Instead, it was the other way around, with the younger Verlander getting big brother for a home run in a Minor League game.

    "I thought about throwing behind his back," Justin Verlander said, "but I decided to throw him one down the middle instead. I'm sure he'll enjoy that for a long time." (Jason Beck - MLB.com - March 31, 2016)  

  • On a night marked as one of the biggest dates on the New York social calendar: the Met Ball, the annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Division, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has run the event since 1995, and everybody who's anybody gets an invite -- a ticket will cost you $25,000. Among this year's guests: Kate Upton, model, actress and Justin's longtime girlfriend/culinary spirit guide.

    Kate was wearing something conspicuously shiny on her left ring finger - it's official, Justin and Kate are engaged to be married.  (Landers - MLB.com - 5/2/16)

  • March 18, 2017: The Tigers have had a month at Joker Marchant Stadium to get ready to take the field again. Their guests couldn't have waited that long. Perry, a 3-year-old poodle up for adoption, was excited enough at the Grand Slam Pet Adoption that he was standing on his hind legs to greet anyone who stooped down to say hello. He had three interested suitors before he stepped on the field, where his small accident coaxed a laugh from the crowd watching.

    Charlie, a 4-year-old Boston Terrier mix, was much calmer but clearly loved the attention as Tigers players, stadium workers and passers-by fell for the kind eyes. Soon enough, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and supermodel Kate Upton, Verlander's fiancée, gave him a hug.

    Chiclet, a tiny Chiahuahua, was small enough for Verlander's father, Richard, to easily cradle, but big enough to catch the attention of Justin Upton's young daughter Sydnee. She would reach out from a distance, only to bring her hand back in when the dog would sniff. Eventually she felt comfortable enough to pet it.

    Twenty-three dogs and counting had a chance to not only roam right field at the ballpark, but ideally find a forever home. The annual event, co-hosted by Verlander and Upton for three years running, helps raise awareness for the benefits of pet adoption through SPCA Florida as well as the K9's for Warriors project that finds companion animals for veterans dealing with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury from recent military service.

    One such dog on display was Mac, a golden retriever who had just been connected with a needy home.


    "It was a great event, obviously some great causes," said Verlander, who tossed five scoreless innings in the split-squad Tigers' 5-4 win over the Marlins after the event. "I think as with any event, it's growing and getting better and better. It seemed like it was a big step up this year, and it's exciting to be a part of."

    Both causes are close to Verlander's heart. He grew up in a military family and founded the Wins for Warriors foundation years ago to help veterans who faced trauma adjust to life back home. He also grew up around dogs.

    "I had dogs since I was born," Verlander said,  "and I adopted my current dog when I was in college, my sophomore year. He's still kicking. He's doing good."

    That dog is Riley. When Verlander and Upton became a couple, he also became part-caretaker of her dog, Harley, who has become somewhat famous through Verlander's Instagram posts. (J Beck - MLB.com - March 18, 2017)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • June 2004: The Tigers drafted Verlander in the first round, out of Old Dominion University.

    October 22, 2004: Verlander signed a five-year contract with the Tigers and scout Greg Smith. It was worth around $4.5 million (more details above).

  • January 20, 2009: The Tigers ($3.2 million) and Verlander ($4.15 million) filed for salary arbitration.

    On February 3, 2009, Justin and the Tigers agreed on a one-year, $3.675 million, avoiding arbitration.

  • February 3, 2010: Verlander signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Tigers.

  • March 29, 2013: Verlander and the Tigers reached agreement on a new contract that could exceed $202 million. Justin would have been eligible to become a free agent after the 2014 season.

Pitching
  • Justin had a 94-101 mph, four-seam FASTBALL that runs in on righthanded hitters. But his velo is down to 91-97 mph, He has a powerful knee-buckling hammer 78-82 mph power CURVEBALL that has late depth. His starts out looking like it's going to hit a righthanded batter in the face. He also has an 85-88 mph SLIDER that has good, late bite slicing out of the strike zone, and a 78-82 mph CIRCLE-CHANGEUP with late fading and sinking action that has hitters wondering when it's going to get here.

    On some nights, that curve has such excellent depth and late biting action low in the strike zone that you can watch hitter's knees literally buckle. (May, 2016)

  • 2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 56.8% of the time; Sinker .4% of the time; Change 8.5% of the time; Slider 16.4%; Curve 15.9% of the time; and Cutter 1.9% of the time.

  • He had control problems in college.

    "That's one thing we really tried to work on was getting him to relax," said Jim Tyrrell, Verlander's pitching coach at Old Dominion. "He has a tendency to get worked up and get going because he really tries. He doesn't like to lose. Everything we do as far as conditioning he always tries to finish first. Every once in a while he gets a little bit ahead of himself."

  • 2013: The lean, lithe and lanky Justin has a natural, loose, extremely rapid arm speed. His long arms and legs bring him close to the plate. Hitters say the ball gets on the real quick from his upright delivery. He smoothed out the violent motion he had in college. He threw off a stiff front leg in college that left his low-to-mid 90s fastball up in the strike zone and gave him trouble locating a plus curveball.

    "He's definitely a lot smoother and cleaner," Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila said. "Now he comes over that front leg and throws on a good downward plane. He can locate the low fastball now and throw his curveball for a strike."

  • Justin is more than willing to knock a hitter off the plate. He makes sure he establishes the inside corner of the plate.

  • Justin never expects to give up a hit. And when he reaches the 3rd or 4th inning without having done so, he starts thinking a no-hitter might happen. Asked late in the 2011 season if a third no-hitter is a probablility at some point, he would agree it is.

    "You put me on the spot, but I would have to say yes," Verlander said. "But it's a funny game, and you look at the Hall of Fame pitchers that never threw a no-hitter. A lot of things have to go your way."

  • In June 2007, Tigers first baseman Sean Casey, talking about players who are able to make it to first base on Verlander:  "They will say, 'He has the nastiest stuff I've ever seen.'"

  • In 2009, Justin tied with C.C. Sabathia and Felix Hernandez for most wins in the America League (19). And Verlander led the AL in strikeouts with 269—47 more K's than the Royals' Zack Greinke.

    And, research by Detroit Free Press writer John Lowe found that Verlander had 11 games of 120 pitches or more this season, four more than the combined staff of the next-closest team, Philadelphia. Verlander threw 3,940 pitches, 294 more than any other pitcher—more than any American League starter since Roger Clemens in 1997 with Toronto.

  • Verlander's 2011 season is the result of  a long accumulation of knowledge that has suddenly all clicked into place.

    "It's hard for me to put a finger on what I know, but it's there," he says. "Time. Experience of pitching at this level for a while now. You log it all away, and it opens up a new game to you, almost."

    This is the sound of a gifted athlete who has just entered his prime. The average velocity of his fastball actually slightly decreased in 2011, from  95.4 mph to 95.0, is deceiving, explains Leyland, who says he saves his triple-digit heat for when it's required.

    "He's figured out you don't have to go all out, helter-skelter, from pitch one," Leyland says. "If you throw the ball down and away, 92 miles an hour, you'll get a lot of outs."

    "If he wanted, he could throw 100 all game," says Verlander's regular catcher, Alex Avila. "He's done that before, and by the sixth inning he's got 100 pitches. Maybe not coming out full throttle from the beginning allows him to get those one-, two-pitch outs, have a little more command, throw a few more strikes."

  • In 2011, Verlander became the best pitcher in baseball because he stopped getting mad about the silly things and stopped trying to strike out every hitter. The outcome of one pitch determines what he will throw the next. He always thinks a few pitches ahead.

    "This year, I feel like I've found myself to be more mentally prepared and physically prepared. That combination has led to what's going on now," Justin said near the end of the regular season.

    WORKHORSE

  • Before August 31, 2012, it had been over two years (August 17, 2010) since he lasted less than six innings—63 consecutive starts. Thus ended the longest streak by a Major League pitcher since Steve Carlton racked up 69 consecutive starts of six or more innings from Sept. 13, 1979, to April 13, 1982. It's the longest streak by a Tigers pitcher in modern franchise history, dating back to 1918, and the third-longest by a Major League pitcher since 1920 according to ESPN Stats and Info.

    Bob Gibson holds the standard for the era with 78 consecutive starts of six innings or longer, from 1967-70.

  • Verlander has led the league in innings pitched in three of the four seasons from 2009 through 2012; thrown more pitches than any other pitcher (25,247, fully 954 more than runner-up Dan Haren of the Angels) over his seven-season career as of the start of the 2013 season.

    The average speed of his fastball in 2012 was 94.7 mph.

  • Former Tigers ace pitcher Denny McLain, baseball's last 30-game winner, said Verlander was the kind of pitcher who could have succeeded in any era. 
  • Justin's the definition of a No. 1 starter. For starters, he understands and accepts that legacies are built on games in the postseason. Verlander wants to be out there when the stakes are the highest and the spotlight the brightest.

    Center fielder Austin Jackson said: "We're definitely confident when he's on the mound." Verlander is capable of grabbing the momentum right back after a Tigers loss. 

    According to fangraphs.com, Verlander's average fastball velocity was down 1 mph in 2013, from 2012's 94.3 to 2013's 93.3 mph. But Verlander has made it clear that focusing on one aspect of his game would be to ignore other important factors. Verlander has made so many mechanical adjustments that he had trouble keeping his delivery consistent in 2013.

    "But I really felt like the last month of the season, I started to kind of get it to click," he said. "And with all the adjustments that I made, when I'm out on the mound, I've still got those in my head a little bit. I try to shove them in the back of [my] mind; you want to forget them and pitch. When I know things aren't right and I'm trying to get them right, [you think], 'Let's do this, let's do that.' I found the only thing is execution. I feel like my mechanics are where they need to be, and I need to execute. Just forget about all that and just make my pitches."

  • May 3, 2016: Verlander moved into second place in Tigers history with 1,981 strikeouts. (Chris Vannini - MLB.com)

  • May 18, 2016: Verlander became the 2nd pitcher in Tigers history to record 2,000 strikeouts. Verlander is the 76th Major League pitcher to reach the mark. Lolich racked up 2,679 strikeouts in his Tigers career.

  • As of the start of the 2017 season, Verlander's career record was 173-106 with a 3.47 ERA, having allowed 217 home runs and 2,072 hits in 2,339 innings.
Fielding

  • Verlander has an excellent pickoff move. And it is natural for him. Justin is that rare righthander with a wicked pickoff move. The Tigers haven't done anything with his move, nor has Verlander spent an abundance of time with it. It's something that simply developed. It is very quick, especially for a righthander. That is because he has such quick feet.

    Justin aids the process by timing his moves.
  • Midway through the 2010 season, Verlander had a new pickoff move. Instead of going straight to first base to hold the runner on, Verlander focused on holding the ball a little bit longer.

    "It's something I know that I needed to do," Verlander said. "There was an adjustment that I made that I felt let me come set, then make a decision from there instead of having that twitch that tells me to go to first. I'm able to take a second and think about it. I'm able to come set and come over. Before, every time I came set, I was coming home, and every time I was picking, it was almost immediate."

    And the first time he used the new move, Justin picked off two Minnesota Twins.

  • April 12, 2014: "My job is to pitch," Verlander said after his first two Major League hits and his first run scored supported his seven quality innings. "Don't get me wrong, it feels great to get a hit."  But his teammates weren't buying the modesty.

    Verlander's hitless streak had gone on for eight years of Interleague Play and 26 at-bats of futility, the second-longest slump by a Tigers player to begin his Major League career. It had endured a handful of near-misses, from the ball that landed just foul down the right-field line at Miami in September, 2014, to the well-struck line drive that Joey Votto snared in Cincinnati two years ago. Verlander remembers those, and plenty others before.

    "I think it's kind of been an anomaly that I hadn't had one yet," Verlander said. "I hit one down the right-field line off [Tim] Lincecum in '07. I came close in Colorado. I lined out in Cincy. I hit one an inch foul in Miami (in 2013). I hit one an inch foul down the third-base line—I forget where that one was, but it was a long time ago."

    His streak had reached the point where teammates like Rick Porcello had given enough ribbing, and were pulling for him to get a hit so they wouldn't have to hear about it anymore. They got their wish soon enough.

    Verlander came up with a runner on first and two out in the second inning and Ian Kennedy hoping to end a rough first turn through the Tigers' lineup. Verlander took a first-pitch fastball over the outside edge, then got another fastball over the middle of the plate that he couldn't pass up, lashing a ground ball through the middle.

    The smile on Verlander's face after he rounded first base showed how much it meant to him. The standing ovation from the large contingent of teammates in the dugout and Tigers fans behind it reflected their appreciation back. 

    "He'd been talking about it since Spring Training, so I was happy he got his first hit," Manager Brad Ausmus said.

    In fact, it came in the one National League ballpark Verlander might have been able to call home. The Padres had the first overall pick in the 2004 Draft, and they used it on a high school shortstop named Matt Bush. The Tigers had the next pick and selected Verlander. (Jason Beck MLB.com, April 12, 2014)

Career Injury Report
  • August 2–October 2005: Verlander missed the last two months of the season with what was basically just a tired arm. An examination from Dr. Kyle Anderson in Detroit revealed what head athletic trainer Kevin Rand called minor posterior capsular inflammation caused by fatigue.
  • January 9, 2013: Justin underwent muscle repair surgery after he injured himself before Christmas during a workout. The team did not identify the "core muscle'' that was repaired, but called the surgery successful.
  • As of the start of the 2014 season, Justin Verlander had never been on the Major League Disabled List.

  • December 2013: Verlander underwent surgery on his abdominals and later called the injury a "blessing in disguise."

    Justin had injured his core while doing squats in December. He originally felt pain on his left side, but an MRI also showed weakening on the right side, and he ended up having surgery in Philadelphia.

  • March 29-June 12, 2015:  The Tigers placed Verlander on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain.