Los Angeles Dodgers: Why Clayton Kershaw Is the National League MVP


May 31, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher

Clayton Kershaw

(22) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the 2013 regular season is coming to a close, it’s time again to discuss the award races. The most interesting of these award races is usually the MVP. But this is an unusual year for the award, due to the fact that a pitcher is a legitimate contender.

Clayton Kershaw has been, by far, the best pitcher in baseball this season. Currently in the best year of his career, he is leading MLB in innings pitched, WHIP, ERA and quality starts. Unless he completely collapses in September, he will have led the MLB in ERA for three consecutive seasons. In short, he’s pretty much a lock to win his second Cy Young, but should he be the MVP, too?

Along with Kershaw, the contenders for the NL MVP are Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen and Yadier Molina. Goldschmidt is currently hitting .291/.395/.530 with 31 home runs and 107 RBI. These are certainly MVP numbers, but the Diamondbacks look like they aren’t going to the playoffs, so that will hurt him in the voting.

McCutchen has been one of the best outfielders in baseball this season, and is probably the favorite for the MVP. His current stats are .326/.405/.519 along with 19 home runs, 79 RBI and 27 stolen bases. McCutchen’s Pirates are looking like they will get into the playoffs. The only thing that could possibly take some votes away from him would be his slow start to the season, when he hit .247/.308/.423 in April.While unlikely, it could take some votes away if it gets close enough.

The last of Kershaw’s competition is Molina. It’s well-known how great Molina’s defense is. He’s thrown out 16 of 38 base stealers with only 3 passed balls. Along with his defense, Molina is hitting .318/.358/.479 with 11 home runs and 65 RBI. The main reason he won’t win would probably be his injury and how good the Cardinals’ lineup is, even without him.

Now, let’s compare Kershaw’s season to  Justin Verlander‘s 2011 season. In 2011, Verlander started 34 games, threw four complete games, two shutouts, 251 innings, struck out 250, had a .92 whip, gave up 6.24 hits, 24 home runs, 2.04 walks and struck out 8.96 batters per nine innings.

Kershaw has started 29 games, thrown three complete  games, two shutouts, 209 innings, struck out 201, has a .92 whip and has given up 6.24 hits, .39 home runs, 2.02 walks and struck out 8.66 strikeouts per nine innings. Very similar numbers, but the advantage goes to Kershaw for his much lower ERA.

Most likely, it will end up coming down to McCutchen and Kershaw. While Kershaw is the best player on the best team in baseball, McCutchen is leading the National League in WAR and is also the best player on the first Pirates team in 20 years to have a winning season