Best in the business: the overwhelming dominance of Clayton Kershaw

Last week during the All-Star break, there were a lot of comparisons between two great players: Derek Jeter and Mike Trout. The main storyline was the retirement of Jeter, the face of baseball for the last twenty years. But the secondary story was understandably intertwined: the emergence of Trout as his replacement.

Personally, I am one of Trout’s biggest fans. Over the last three years, he has probably been one of the best, if not the best, in baseball. However, when considering who the face of baseball is going to be in 2014 and beyond, there’s another player who should get consideration: Clayton Kershaw.

The case for Kershaw by the numbers

The point here is not to take anything away from Mike Trout, but rather to recall how amazing Kershaw has been. The Dodgers ace was called up in 2008 and struggled at times, putting up an ERA of 4.26, but from 2009 to the present, his numbers have been out of this world. In 2009 and 2010, his performance saw drastic improvements as he posted ERAs of 2.79 and 2.91, respectively. During those years, he was a great young pitcher taking the majors by storm, but he had yet to take his place as the best pitcher in baseball.

Continue reading

Midseason awards: National League

As we near baseball’s All-Star break, it’s time to take a look at the players who have really stood out thus far in the season. Yesterday I took a look at some outstanding players in the American League. Today I’ll do the same for the National League.

NL MVP

We find a mix of old and new names in the National League MVP conversation. Pirates center-fielder Andrew McCutchen is having a great follow-up to his 2013 MVP campaign, as his .319 average ranks fifth. This, along with his 14 home runs, 58 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases, is proof of his all-around greatness.

Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy has always been a solid hitter, but he has pulled himself into MVP consideration for the first time this year with a .323 average that ranks third in the league, and an .897 OPS that is sixth. His Milwaukee team has also surprised baseball by maintaining first place in the competitive NL Central (though a 4-game sweep at the hands of a weak Phillies team can’t be encouraging).

Continue reading