Pitchers work a lot throughout the years to achieve elite fastball velocity, to clean up their mechanics, to tune up their command, and to develop their secondary offerings, among other things.
Yet, ever since Verlander took a major league mound for the first time in 2005, you knew he was different: he looked like a natural, like a pitcher.
He has always had the build, the arm strength, the durability, the heavy fastball, the hard-breaking curveball and slider, and the bulldog mentality required to succeed on the mound.
He has dominated for years.
“Justin Verlander through the years. From Tiger to Astro. Rookie of the year. 3 Cy Youngs. MVP,” Astros insider Michael Schwaab tweeted.
Justin Verlander through the years.
From Tiger to Astro.
Rookie of the year. 3 Cy Youngs. MVP. pic.twitter.com/S6Q1JXOJ0W
— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) November 17, 2022
Just look at the first batter he strikes out in that video: it’s Travis Hafner.
Hafner, a notable slugger in the 2000s and part of the 2010s, has been retired since 2013.
As Dominant As Ever, If Not Better
He started his MLB career just three years before Verlander, yet the latter still looks as dominant as ever going into his age-40 season in 2023 and the former has been out of baseball for nine years.
Back when reaching triple digits with the fastball was rare and mostly done by relievers, there he was, pumping 100-mph four-seamers right by hitters.
Here we are, several years later, and he just won a Cy Young Award by posting a 1.75 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in 175 frames.
He did that at age 39, as hard to believe as it sounds.
He doesn’t quite throw 100 anymore, but he lives in the mid-to-high 90s and his repertoire remains as good as ever.
Verlander, who also won his second World Series this year, is looking for one last multi-year deal.
With the kind of season he had, he is likely to get it.