Why Clayton Kershaw Should Win NL Cy Young and NL MVP Award in 2014
Every MLB team needs an ace at the top of their rotation. Having one provides a leader for the rest of the pitching staff and a stopper when the team is in the midst of a losing streak. Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw has done that and more for Los Angeles and is deserving of winning both the 2014 NL Cy Young award as well as the NL MVP this season.
Already a two-time Cy Young winner, Kershaw is no stranger to being an elite hurler. Entering the first season of a seven-year, $215 million contract extension — the richest ever for a pitcher — the pressure was on to deliver.
After yet another dominant performance Thursday night against the San Diego Padres, the southpaw improved to 15-3 with a 1.82 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 184 strikeouts in 153.1 innings pitched. Dominant is the word we’ll use, but there really is no way to describe how much better Kershaw has been than the rest of the league.
His wins, ERA and WHIP either lead the NL or gives him a share of the league lead. He also has six complete games, two more than Johnny Cueto, who is in second place. He’s nearly 40 innings behind Cueto because a back injury forced him to miss the entire month of April. Despite that, he’s only 14 strikeouts behind Stephen Strasburg for the most in the NL (198).
If you were lucky enough to draft him in your season-long fantasy baseball league, you’ve enjoyed one of the most dominant single-season pitching performances we’ll ever see. Most weren’t expecting him to follow up a 16-9 record and 1.83 ERA from 2013 with one just as good in 2014, but he’s been even better, which seemed unlikely. Daily fantasy players know how expensive he is to draft, but it almost always ends up being worth the investment.
There should be no doubt he’ll be winning his third Cy Young award at the end of the season. However, he’ll also be getting plenty of votes for the NL MVP award. These rarely go to pitchers because it’s hard to be a team’s most valuable player while appearing in approximately 35 games per year.
The last pitcher to win both awards was Justin Verlander in 2010. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings pitched. He won the pitcher’s triple crown (most wins, lowest ERA and most strikeouts), along with leading the league in every other category mentioned here.
His performance was dominant, especially doing it in the American League. Some feel it’s easier to pitch in the National League, but we haven’t seen any hurlers do what Kershaw has done over the past two seasons.
The Dodgers are currently 72-57 with a 3.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Kershaw has appeared in just 21 of their 129 games, but they wouldn’t be having nearly this much success without him. Knowing he’ll throw at least seven innings when taking the mound (he’s done it 12 times in 2014) without making many mistakes gives the team a huge confidence boost. They feel as if a win is a sure thing every five days, and that kind of confidence spills over to the rest of the team.
Kershaw winning both of these prestigious awards should be a no-brainer, and a testament to exactly how good he’s been and how valuable he’s been to the Dodgers in 2014.