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Justin Verlander Is the Best Bargain in Baseball

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The old maxim "you get what you pay for" doesn't always hold true. The sports world is full of high-priced flops. We've even had a few in Detroit over the years.

In Justin Verlander, however, the Detroit Tigers have arguably one of the best bargains in baseball.

It's hard to imagine anyone making $180 million over seven years (or $202 million over eight if an option is exercised) could be considered a bargain, but the case for Verlander is strong. First, there's gate and concession revenue. The Tigers have drawn over 3 million fans three times since Verlander joined the club. Then, there's the sale of licensed merchandise, and the TV and radio ad time and online ad traffic he encourages (you don't have to actually attend a game to add to the team's coffers).

Then, of course, there are the intangibles, like the extent to which he makes his teammates better. He is confident to be sure, maybe even a tad cocky at times, but he is no prima donna. The thing he is, above all else, is a guy who loves to compete -- a quality that rubs off on his teammates, especially his fellow starters.

By the numbers, he's been as good as there is over the course of his career. Coming into this season, Verlander had won 124 games, led the league in innings pitched in three of the last four years, led the league in complete games in 2012, was an AL All-Star in 2007 and every year from 2009-2012, and has two no-hitters. In 2011, Verlander won both the American League Cy Young and MVP Awards when he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA. He "slumped" to 17-8, 2.64 ERA while leading the Tigers to the AL pennant in 2012.

Verlander, who turned 30 in February, is not just getting older, he's getting better. He has four "plus" pitches, including a heater that he can bring at 100 mph. Importantly, Verlander makes it all happen from the same release point. And he has learned to pace himself. Rather than trying to blow opposing hitters away from the get-go, he has mastered the art of holding something back for when he really needs it.

Residents of a city steeped in car culture are attuned to the vagaries of value for the money. The goal, of course, is to get as much as possible for as little as necessary. The Ilitch family has been generous, but not to a fault. At this point, it seems like a pretty good bet that the extension keeping Verlander in a Tigers' uniform through at least through 2019 will pay off.

And it pretty much guarantees that when Verlander is enshrined in Cooperstown, he will have the old-English-D on his cap.

A lifelong follower of the Detroit Tigers, Mike has covered sports, automotive, government and interfaith issues for publications and websites including "The Detroit News," Internet Auto Guide, Opposing Views, American Thinker, Examiner and A Common Word.

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