- Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)
Hernandez is probably tired of being called “the league’s best righty” but, unfortunately for him, that title is the best that he will get, we assume. I’m writing this as if it is a bad thing, but Hernandez is a future Hall of Famer (in my eyes) and has nothing to feel bad about. He has been very good for a while now, so now try to input the information that he is only 28 years old into your brain.
Felix got an early start, pitching in his first major league game after just turning 19. Since then, he has accumulated 125 wins and one of the best résumés in baseball. Five All-Star games to King Felix’s name doesn’t even start to portray the dominance that he has had over teams. Felix is currently on a six-year stretch that is one for the ages. He has made the All-Star game in each year but one. But don’t feel bad, because he ended up winning the AL Cy Young that year!
Hernandez is a name you will hear in AL Cy Young talks every year. He has finished top 10 in Cy Young voting five times, and four times in the top four, with one win and two runner-ups. The Seattle Mariners have been the thing holding Felix back. Not only the offense, but the rest of the pitching staff as well. But in 2015, I expect a major jump in offense and pitching from the Mariners, leading Felix to his first ever postseason berth, but once again a Cy Young second-place trophy.
- Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
I am very tempted not to say anything at all about Kershaw, but I can’t do that. I will, however, keep it brief.
Kershaw is the best pitcher I have ever seen. Now before I hear “What about…” being yelled at me through your computer screen, let me explain. When I say Kershaw is the best pitcher I have even seen, I do not mean he is the best pitcher ever. He is only 27, so that would be ridiculous for me to say. So I am not talking about legacy. What I mean to say is: when I watch Clayton Kershaw pitch on a game-to-game basis, he is the best I have ever witnessed. I have never seen anyone dominate the way he does. So whether or not that dominance continues (which I believe it will), Kershaw’s 2011-14 is one of the best stretches I have ever seen at any position in baseball.
Kershaw has led the league in ERA for the last four seasons straight. He has won the Cy Young in three of those four seasons (one unanimous) and finished as the runner-up the year he didn’t win. The 2014 season started off in a way unfamiliar to Kershaw when he was placed on the DL for the first time in his career. He missed about five starts in that time. So just imagine what Kershaw could have done this year with those five starts in play. 2014 was Kershaw’s best year to date. He led all pitchers in wins, win percentage, ERA, K/9, FIP, WHIP, ERA+, complete games, and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
A large part of Kershaw’s success comes from his will to be perfect. A.J. Ellis described Clayton Kershaw’s consistent pre-game bullpen session,
“Three fastballs when I’m standing up. I sit, and three fastballs down the middle. Then three fastballs either side. Three change ups away. Fastball inside. Three curveballs to the middle. Fastball inside. Three sliders to the middle. Then he goes to the stretch position. Two fastballs inside, two fastballs away, two change ups, one fastball inside, two curve balls, one fastball inside, two sliders. Back to the windup, and one fastball inside, one fastball away. Thirty-four pitches in all.”
I picked Kershaw to win another Cy Young this year, but will it finally be time to see Kershaw win a World Series?
Previous Articles In This Series:
Top 5 Designated Hitters https://www.baseballessential.com/news/2015/03/02/power-rankings-top-5-designated-hitters-in-15/