The Game: Baseball
2017 Pre-Season Projections
2017 600 PA / 200 IP Projections
2017 Updated In-Season Projections
Ottoneu Fantasy Baseball
Win Probability & Box Scores
2017 Projected Standings
2016 Playoff Odds
Playoff Odds Graphs
2017 Free Agent Tracker!
Minor League Leaders
Combined WAR Leaderboards
League Average Heatmaps
Team Batting Stats
Team Pitching Stats
Team WAR Totals (RoS)
Team Depth Charts
Positional Depth Charts
K% & BB%
K/9 & BB/9
TZ & TZL
Park Factors by Handedness
Help Support FanGraphs
Become a Member
Already a member?
2/20/1983 (33 y, 11 m, 30 d)
2004 June Amateur Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 2, Overall: 2, Team: Detroit Tigers
$180M / 7 Years (2013 - 2019) + 1 Option Years
Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed over the weekend that Verlander will start Opening Day against the White Sox, the Detroit Free Press reports. (1/23/2017)
Active Starting Pitchers Have Virtually No Shot at»
Craig Edwards (FanGraphs)
Exposing Baseball's Other Movementarians
Rylan Edwards (RotoGraphs)
The Justin Verlander Issue
Nicolas Stellini (FanGraphs)
"Giving My Team a Chance to Win" and the Cy Young
David Laurila (FanGraphs)
Trading Three Key Pitchers
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
Verlander had a breakout season in 2009, as posted the best K/9 of his career – 10.09, which was second best in all of baseball – as well as a 2.36 BB/9. After two years of declining fastball speed (it went from averaging 95.1 mph in 2006 to 94.8 in 2007 and 93.6 in 2008), his fastball gained speed and was the fastest of his career and second best in the bigs at 95.6. His BABIP was a smidgen high at .328, so he deserved better than his already-great 3.45 ERA. The only, slight, cause for concern is that his GB% has decreased each year and now sits at 36% (in the bottom 10), but that is a small and acceptable price to pay for the big-time strikeouts and quality control.
The Year Ahead:
Verlander enters 2010, his age-27 season, as one of the top starting pitchers in the game. He should contribute in all four starting-pitcher categories. Both his wins and strikeouts should be very good, although, because of regression, you cannot expect him to repeat his huge 2009 totals of 19 wins and 269 strikeouts. On the other hand, even if his BB/9 and K/9 numbers regress, he could outperform his 2009 ERA and WHIP, because his BABIP should improve. As one of the top 2009 starters, by posting flashy K and W values, and a young guy with no health issues, he will not come cheap in 2010 and should be one of the first handful of pitchers selected. (Dave Allen)
Verlander was a fantasy stud in 2010, just like he was in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He did struggle in 2008 and that can be easily attributed to his fastball going from 95 mph (which has been the average in every other season) to 93.5 mph. Besides 2008, he has average rate of more than 8.00 K/9 innings and under 3.00 BB/9. He should be able to get about 15 wins by going against the rest of the AL Central and the having decent run support. He is one of the top aces in the league and should be treated as one. Verlander should be one of the top-15 pitchers to come off the board and probably in the top five in an AL only league. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
Verlander has been a great fantasy pitcher over the past few season and there is no reason to see that change in 2011.
The year after Roger Clemens (the last AL starting pitcher to win the MVP award) won his honor, he repeated as the Cy Young award winner. He regressed in nearly every category, whether fantasy relevant or not, yet was still the AL’s best pitcher that year. That’s the type of year Verlander owners should be hoping for. He has substantial competition to repeating as the Cy Young winner, but he’ll have as good a shot as anyone, even if he can’t repeat his 2011 level of success. Saying that Verlander isn’t going to be as good in 2012 as he was in 2011 isn’t heresy, it’s just the law of averages. Even if he regresses to his career levels, he’ll still be one of the best three pitchers in the game, and worthy of a high draft pick. (Dan Wade)
The Quick Opinion:
If he’s anything other than one of the five best pitchers in baseball this season, consider it a big upset. Verlander is a dominant pitcher in the prime of his career; no matter how narrow the definition of a true ace pitcher is, Verlander fits.
After a sensational 2011 season, Verlander kept chugging along last year, striking out a batter per inning, limiting the free pass and acting as a workhorse. However, hopes for another sub-3.00 ERA hinges upon a third straight season of a well-below-average batting average on balls in play. Prior to 2011, Verlander's BABIP did not deviate too far from the average (except for 2009 when it was well above it). Over the last two years, though, his BABIP has been at levels you might expect from an extreme fly ball pitcher with superb defensive support. If and when that BABIP does rise, the strand rate will fall, and his ERA will creep above 3.00 again. Of course, even if that happens, he'll still remain a top-five fantasy pitcher, so he remains as safe an investment as it gets among starting pitchers. (
The Quick Opinion:
Coming off a Cy Young 2011 campaign, Verlander followed up strongly, pitching nearly as well and posting similar skills. Though it's up in the air how long he can maintain batting averages on balls in play well below the league average, he should once again be a top fantasy starter.
When a 3.46 ERA is considered a disappointing performance, you know you have been on a roll in past seasons. But for arguably the best pitcher in baseball, that's exactly how fantasy owners felt about Justin Verlander. On the heels of a one mile per hour decline in fastball velocity, Verlander's peripherals took a step backward, driving his SIERA to its highest level since 2008. And for just the second time in his career, his batting average on balls in play jumped above the .300 plateau. Oddly, despite a walk rate that increased to the second worst mark of his career, his first strike rate actually hit a career high. His velocity did improve as the season wore on and he was as dominant as ever in September. While it would be unwise to expect the soon-to-be 31-year-old to return to peak form, his skills should rebound a bit and lead to a more typical Justin Verlander type season. (
The Quick Opinion:
A dip in fastball velocity and poor defensive support combined to hamper Verlander's performance and disappoint his fantasy owners. But his advanced metrics suggest that this is nearly the same pitcher and he should remain a strong candidate to finish the season as the top earner among starting pitchers.
The 31-year-old Verlander is at crossroads in his career. He is going to need to figure out how to pitch successfully with a lower fastball velocity. That gas has been slowly declining since 2009, but over the last couple of seasons it has dropped two mph from 94.3 to 92.3 mph. At the same time, his swinging strike rate has gone from 12% to 9%, which is inline with his strikeout rate dropping from nine per nine to seven per nine. Looking at all his numbers, almost all are trending in the wrong way. Contact percentages are up. Zone percentage is down. Batting average on balls in play is up. Home runs are up. Historically speaking, he has little chance of a velocity rebound. Owners need to go into 2015 expecting the 2014 Verlander, not the one from previous Cy Young seasons. Along with the drop in strikeouts, his ERA and estimators now stand near the four territory instead of being sub-three. These type of numbers puts in the category of pitchers like Bud Norris, Dan Haren, Jake Peavy and Wade Miley --acceptable starters, but not great. He is going to get drafted way ahead of those pitchers on the chance of a possible rebound. Don't take the chance. He isn't completely useless, but his current talent needs to be valued, not his production from a couple seasons ago. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
All pitchers eventually begin to see their production wane. Just like CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander needs to be valued on his current talent, not his previous Cy Young production levels.
Verlander made 32 starts in 2014 which might make the injury excuse that year a tough sell for some. But simply chalking up his poor play to skills degradation doesn't really make sense for the sudden cliff dive. He had core surgery ahead of the '14 season and somehow didn't miss any time, but after a strong start (2.67 ERA thru eight starts) he labored through the summer (5.87 in his next 18) and finished with a 4.54 ERA, second-worst in his career. The tricep injury of '15 fit a more defined pattern. He was out until mid-June and then struggled immediately upon returning, a "normal" trajectory for associating injury with performance. So whether or not you fully subscribe to the injury reason behind his ugly '14 and start of '15, let's move onto the good part of last season. The biggest difference in his game was the fastball. In the 38 starts from the start of 2014 through July 19th of 2015, he allowed an .856 OPS with just a 13% strikeout rate on the heater. In his final 14 starts last year, he was at .541 and 25%, respectively. The key, as is often the case with pitching, was location. The high heat sparked his run. A full 49% of his fastballs were in the upper third of the zone, matching the Vintage Verlander of 2009-2012. The secondary stuff always looked like it'd make for a smooth decline even as the velo waned and now with health, we're seeing that play out. The risk is now baked into the cost making Verlander a worthy third starting pitcher target in all formats. (
The Quick Opinion:
After being sidelined for almost three months with a triceps injury, Verlander got off to a horrific start (6.62 ERA thru six starts) before recapturing his ace form for his final 14 starts (2.27 ERA in 99 IP). It looks like health was the real issue in '14 and early-'15, and that a healthy Verlander is a still a very good Verlander, but now at age-33 we can't assume he will stay upright for a full season.
If you would like to make a projection for this player, please
Only stats on the same scale can be grouped.
Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2017 3:33 AM ET
Terms of Service
All major league baseball data including pitch type, velocity, batted ball location, and play-by-play data provided by Baseball Info Solutions.
All UZR (ultimate zone rating) calculations are provided courtesy of Mitchel Lichtman.
FOX Sports Engage Network Partner
All Win Expectancy, Leverage Index, Run Expectancy, and Fans Scouting Report data licenced from TangoTiger.com
All minor league baseball data provided by Major League Baseball Advanced Media as distributed by STATS.
Play-by-play data prior to 2002 was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.