By Ethan Salm
As the 2019 MLB season winds down, it is time to look at the best performers of the season at every position. In this series of columns, I will run through all of the best players at positions 1-9, along with the DH and relief pitchers. Without further ado, I give you my All-MLB team, or The Best Nine.
1/Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander has won just about everything you can win as a major league pitcher. He is a Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner, MVP and a World Series champion. He has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time, and this year he is once again the best. He has started 33 games this year, winning 20 and losing six. He leads all pitchers in WAR (Wins Above Replacement), with 7.8, and has dominated hitters all year. He is leading the league in WHIP, hits per nine innings, innings pitched and wins. In almost every other pitching category he is top five, including strikeouts, K/9, ERA, complete games and shutouts. Oh, and he has thrown a no-hitter this season AND he has helped lead the Astros to a top two seed in the American League. What a season it has been once again for JV. This season, Verlander has thrown four pitches: the four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball and slider. His velocity has topped out with his fastball at 100 MPH and dips all the way down to 76 MPH with the curveball. This gives him the lethal combination of blasting the fastball past hitters and slowing it down with the changeup. This gives Verlander an extremely high swinging strike rate and has helped him climb up to second in strikeouts in all of baseball this year.
Honorable Mention: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
Cole has been just as good as Verlander, which is what makes the Astros so dangerous this postseason. Honestly, picking between Cole and Verlander was a toss-up for me. In all the categories above that JV is leading in, Cole is second in almost all of them. Those two not only make up the 1-2 punch for Houston’s rotation, but the 1-2 punch for the entire league.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org