Clayton Kershaw has been “The Man” for the Los Angeles Dodgers–posting a 19-3 record with an ERA of just 1.70 (at the time this article was written). He also has 219 strikeouts with just 28 walks. There’s no doubt Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game today and he proves it year in and year out. Justin Verlander had his day in the sun, but he’s had it rough in 2014. Max Scherzer, Verlander’s teammate, is having another good year–but nothing like the one we saw last year.
The Dodgers have 86 wins and Kershaw has been the reason behind 19 of those–roughly 22 percent of the Dodgers victories. This guy has MVP written all over him at this point, doesn’t he?
Not so fast my friend. I bet if I said Kershaw has a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 7.6, how he has allowed just 38 runs all year, or is giving up less than two runs per nine innings pitched that would easily award him as the National League MVP; however, this is not true in my opinion.
To be fair, Kershaw only pitches every fifth day, while he is not out there every single day helping the Dodgers win– like teammates Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. My view of MVP? The player that lifts the play of those around him and helps to account for a lot of that team’s success. There are more fitting candidates in the National League this year–Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton, and maybe even another Pirate, Josh Harrison, in my opinion.
Stanton has a .288 average with 37 homers and 105 RBI and has kept the Miami Marlins in the thick of the playoff race (although his recent season-ending injury may hurt his case), though I think they’ll come up short; McCutchen is hitting .310 with 23 homers and 75 RBI this season (it should be noted he also spent time on the DL for the first time in his career); Justin Upton is hitting .277 with 27 homers and 97 RBI this season, as well. I don’t think Upton will receive the award, however, because it appears that Atlanta is going to also fall short of the playoffs. The difference between Upton and Stanton? Stanton doesn’t have as much talent around him so there’s more of a reliance on him to produce. Finally, Josh Harrison, who’s hitting .317 with 13 HR and 51 RBI this season. A lot of the Pirates sustainability during McCutchen’s DL stint was because of Harrison–who leads the National League in batting average.
All of the candidates I mentioned are phenomenal candidates for MVP–even better candidates for the award than Kershaw. Why? They play every single day.
The MVP Award should go to a position player, because pitchers have their own prestigious award (the Cy Young Award). Leave Kershaw and any other pitcher out of the MVP talks. He’s great, but the Baseball Writers of America already have an award they can give to Kershaw for his phenomenal year–which he rightfully deserves.