Sep. 25, 2014
Is Kershaw MVP Worthy?
After a sterling season that ranks among baseball's best, should Clayton Kershaw win the MVP?
Kershaw, 26, is a jaw dropping 21-3 on the season with a 1.77 ERA for the NL West champion Dodgers
Written by Jake Elman
In a time where seemingly everyone (including ) is talking about the NFL, we turn our eyes over to Los Angeles, California, where a historic regular season has just completed.
Coming into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were World Series contenders, and for good reason. They had an offense reminiscent of Murderer's Row - first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was solid when healthy, Dee Gordon could give you hell on the basepaths, Hanley Ramirez was arguably the game's best shortstop, if Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp were health then the team would be set, and of course, Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig. The pitching was just as good, featuring former 20 game winner Josh Beckett, 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, the veteran Dan Haren, and others.
And, of course, Clayton Kershaw.
The seventh overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft (taken after Luke Hochevar, Greg Reynolds, Brad Lincoln, Brandon Morrow, and Andrew Miller...yikes), Kershaw has made his case to be the next face of baseball. In a span of about five years, Kershaw has blossomed from a top prospect into the game's top pitcher. Kershaw is what Randy Johnson once was, what Roger Clemens once was, what Sandy Koufax once was; every time he goes onto the mound, there's a chance history is going to happen.
Last night was Kershaw's final start of the 2014 regular season, and once again, he did nothing but impress. Pitching against the likely playoff bound San Francisco Giants, Kershaw put up a statline of 8 innings, 8 hits, only 1 run allowed, and eight strikeouts with no walks. That put the finishing bow on a regular season that saw him put up career high numbers and is in line for his third career - and second straight - NL Cy Young award.
But, here's a better question. Clayton Kershaw is a lock for the NL Cy Young award, but should he also win the National League's MVP?
The answer, without a doubt in the world, should be yes. I know that I briefly touched upon this when doing my ten September storylines piece, but the fact remains that Kershaw has done nothing to lose the award. I get that there's a debate about pitchers winning the MVP award, and I think it's a fair point of view to have; you're not going to see Mike Trout winning the Cy Young award or Richard Sherman winning Offensive Player of the Year, after all.
I don't agree with the idea Kershaw shouldn't win because he's a pitcher, however. MVP stands for Most Valuable Player, and I dare you to tell me with a straight face that Kershaw hasn't been the most valuable player to the Dodgers this year. Now that I think about it, he's been the most valuable player of baseball all year because without performances like his, it's likely people would still be talking about Alex Rodriguez and Biogenesis.
Kershaw has posted numbers this year you're more likely to see in Sony's MLB: The Show rather than real life; 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, and that's after missing the first month of the season after being injured in March! He threw his first no hitter back in June, which was arguably one of the no hitters of all time, and has looked dominant all season. Without Kershaw, the Dodgers wouldn't be NL West champs and may not even be in the playoff hunt.
Plus, this really wasn't a huge year for players in the NL. The majority of the MVP candidates coming into the season (Yaisel Puig, Paul Goldschmidt, Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, David Wright, and Andrew McCutchen, to name a few) all were either injured and missed a lot of time or just didn't put up the numbers. It's a bit like 2011, where Justin Verlander had a dominant season - though, not as good as Kershaw's, honestly - and came away with both awards.
And if you're an advanced stathead who thinks Kershaw shouldn't win because his 'sabermetric stats' don't match up, well I have some news for you. Kershaw has a FIP of 1.80, by far the best number in his career.
This kid deserves the MVP award, hands down. Hopefully, the voters see it that way, because it'd be a real shame if Kershaw doesn't win.
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