And while he hasn't quite perfected the "RBI Baseball" bend that makes pitchers/gamers drool even to this day, Verlander displayed enough of that video-game nastiness this year in Detroit to become the most dominant pitcher in the major leagues.
And it's because of that dominance that Verlander will be appearing on the cover of "MLB 2K12," a game the Detroit Tiger's ace will not only rep, but it's a franchise he has been playing for years thanks to the advanced analog pitching controls and authentic Inside Edge scouting reports.
"They have the scouting reports, and I swear, this is no B.S., but I've gone on there and literally looked at scouting reports and a hitter's hot and cold zones before I faced them in order to get a little scouting report for myself," Verlander says as we catch up over the phone to talk video games and pitching (who knew the two would intermix). "The scouting reports are actually taken from real Major League Baseball games, so this isn't just made up information. This is real scouting information.
"This game is the real deal."
Jon Robinson: When you were growing up playing games, like "Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run," did you ever think that one day you'd be on the cover of a video game?
Justin Verlander: I dreamt. That's every baseball player and video game player's dream. I'm a gamer, I played "Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball" and he's someone I looked at as a kid and was like, "Man, I wish one day." So to be here right now representing 2K Sports and Major League Baseball, what an honor. I can't say enough. I'm extremely happy to see a dream like that come full circle.