Justin Verlander kept repeating a phrase all year when reporters asked: If you expect greatness, greatness shouldn't surprise you. The recognition of that greatness, though, might be a surprise for a few people.

As badly as Tigers right-hander might want MVP-type recognition, he couldn't be sure he was going to get it, a question more of precedence than performance. His first chance came from his peers, who decided he was the best player in baseball this year -- not just best pitcher, best player.

As a result, Verlander became the second pitcher to win MLB Player of the Year honors in the annual Players Choice Awards on Thursday. Whether it was a surprise for Verlander, it was clearly meaningful as he talked about it on a conference call with reporters.

Fred Thornhill/Reuters
"Coming from your peers makes it all the more special," said Verlander, who joined Boston's Pedro Martinez (1999) as the only hurlers to win the award. "I think with all the talk about should a pitcher be able to win MVP or a top player award, I think it shows a lot of support for my fellow players to be able to vote me for that. I think it means a lot. When it comes from your peers, the guys you're playing with, the guys you're playing against, it's special."

The Player of the Year Award covers both leagues, and dates back to 1998. Before then, the MLB Players Association had one award for each league's best pitcher, and one for each league's best position player, with no mixing.

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