Some of the collections I have been working on over the years are starting to get filled out and my goals are being reached. As a result, I'm starting to slow down a little when it comes to acquiring many cards for some of my mini-collections. Now that the collection is feeling more and more complete, I wanted to start showcasing the cards I have, player by player.
Justin Verlander's Major League career got off to an inauspicious start in 2005. He started two games for the Tigers, pitched 11 innings, and allowed 9 earned runs. He came back to Detroit's rotation in 2006 to strike out 124 batters en route to winning 17 games and posting a 3.23 ERA (good for 7th in the AL). He ran away with the AL Rookie of the Year award, taking all but two first place votes (Minnesota's Francisco Liriano and Baltimore's Nick Markakis) and finishing 70 points ahead of second-place finisher Jonathan Papelbon, who saved 35 games for the Red Sox. Besides winning ROY, Verlander finished 7th in the AL Cy Young balloting and even garnered some MVP votes.
Since then, Verlander has put together a first-ballot Hall of Fame career as a generational starting pitcher. During his time in Detroit, he received six All-Star nominations. In 2011, he took home the AL pitching Triple Crown with a 2.40 ERA, 24 wins, and 250 strikeouts. He also led the league with a minuscule .920 WHIP across 250 innings. He won the Cy Young Award unanimously that year and became just the 10th pitcher to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season (the first to do it since Dennis Eckersley in 1992).
He was traded to the Houston Astros in 2017 as part of their pennant push, and saying it paid off would be an understatement. After arriving in Houston, he pitched in five regular season games, going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts. He posted an incredible 8.6 SO/W ratio for the Astros before winning ALCS MVP and helping the team win the World Series. Then he just seemed to get better, finishing second in the Cy Young voting the next season before winning his second award in 2019. Tommy John kept him out all of 2021, but he has come back strong in 2022 with a 2.03 ERA and an AL-best 10 wins as the All-Star Break approaches.
The scans above don't show all of the Justin Verlander cards in my collection, but the ones I didn't show are all part of set builds. These are the ones that are part of my Rookie of the Year collection, enough for a nice, even, double-bagged page.