Justin Verlander is in the midst of his 19th major league season. The 40-year-old veteran won his third Cy Young Award last year in Houston and is back with the Astros after signing with the Mets in the offseason.
Verlander made his major league debut nearly 20 years ago with the Tigers and has seen the impact analytics can have on the game. He’s been able to use them to his advantage in Houston.
Verlander talked about the difference between the analytics departments of the Tigers, Astros, and Mets during his appearance on Audacy’s original podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” this week.
“It’s different information,” Verlander said (3:15 in player above). “If you’re talking about when I first went to the Astros, they had a lot more analytics than the Tigers at the time so I was inundated with new avenues to learn from.”
Verlander spent the first 13 years of his career in Detroit before being traded to the Astros at the 2017 trade deadline. He was expecting the influx of information in Houston.
“Like anything else, you filter through it and learn what you can from it and try not to be overwhelmed by it,” he said. “I was very much looking for information so I was pleased to have it at my disposal.”
Verlander mentioned that one of the first things the Astros pointed out was that the break on his four-seam fastball was elite while his two-seam fastball was “quite average.”
The veteran pitcher had a 3.82 through his first 28 starts of the 2017 season. He then allowed just four runs in 34 innings (1.06 ERA) in his five starts with the Astros to finish that campaign.
He kept that up in the following seasons with an ERA just above 2.50 and a sparkling 1.75 ERA in 2022 after coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Verlander turned that into a two-year, $86 million contract with the Mets in the offseason. Going to New York was “a little different” in terms of analytics.
“I think the Astros have been on the forefront of analytics for a while so they had a headstart and I think the Mets are doing the right things to catch up,” Verlander said. “But you can’t replicate that time that’s lost. So they’re getting a lot of information. They ask me a lot of questions. It’s obviously different; just statistically, analytically time is valuable. You learn more with the more data you compile.”
The Mets were able to work with Verlander as the pitcher provided some of the information that he’d gathered over the years.
“This is why you see organizations hire people from the Dodgers, Astros, especially early on,” he said. “They wanted to learn what organizations were doing so they could catch up.”