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Friday, August 23, 2013
Perhaps more impressive from a traditional standpoint, Kershaw’s ERA would rank fifth among qualified pitchers since the 1969 expansion and rules changes. As it is, three of the four above him pitched in strike-shortened seasons and compiled innings totals he’ll soon surpass if he hasn’t already.
Let’s first look at his competition. Kershaw’s pitching-only WAR is better than that of the top three position players: the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen (6.6), the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez (6.4) and the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt (5.7). If you include Kershaw’s hitting (.156/.217/.250), his total becomes 7.4, which only increases his lead in that stat. McCutchen, who has hit .321/.399/.512 with 17 homers and 26 steals, is by far the top challenger when one considers the potential narratives that could sway a certain segment of voters: he’s the only one of that trio playing for a first-place team, he’s doing so for the one that has had 20 consecutive losing seasons, and his second-half performance thus far (.374/.459/.626 with seven homers) has been off the charts. That said, while the Pirates are in good shape to make the playoffs, any fall from first place behind the Cardinals or Reds in the NL Central could compromise his chances, as could a cooling off from his torrid pace.
Somewhat bizarrely, of the 10 pitchers to win MVP since 1956, only three of them even ranked as the best *pitcher* in their league by WAR. Guess which three; answer after the jump.
Answer: Koufax, Gibson, and Verlander.
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