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Monday, November 10, 2014

Case against Kershaw for MVP: 198 innings.

Clayton Kershaw led the National Conference in: wins, winning percentage, complete games, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, SO9, SO/W.  That's just in the basic stats at baseball-reference.com.  Of those eight stats, only two are totals, which allow us to get an idea of how much the pitcher is playing.

Clayton Kershaw pitching against the New York Mets in July 1, 2012 by kla4067 via Wikimedia Commons
But Kershaw pitched only 198 innings.  Am I the only one disturbed by the notion that a starting pitcher has a serious chance of being voted by the writers as National Conference MVP with fewer than 200 innings?  Kershaw is not even in the top ten in innings pitched, even in his own conference:


Innings Pitched
1.Cueto (CIN)243.2
2.Wainwright (STL)227.0
3.Teheran (ATL)221.0
4.Bumgarner (SFG)217.1
5.Strasburg (WSN)215.0
6.Leake (CIN)214.1
7.Burnett (PHI)213.2
8.Hamels (PHI)204.2
9.Harang (ATL)204.1
10.Lynn (STL)203.2

Why two MVP awards?  November 1, 2013

The modern MVP started in 1931 with a winner selected in each of the two major leagues: American and National.  That has continued through 2012 even though those two leagues merged into one, which I decided to refer to as the Major Baseball League (MBL) to emphasize that point, which has eluded both MBL management and the media with really bad results such as teams in a division playing different schedules, which impacts results much more than performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids.

The CY award was started in 1956 because pitchers were winning the MVP award too often.  In 1956 Don Newcombe won both CY and NL MVP.  Go figure.  There was only one CY award through 1966, then one in each league, same as MVP.

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Hall of Fame: why elect ANY pitchers?  Friday, January 22, 2010

I have long held that relief pitchers not be elected to the Hall of Fame because they are part time players, like pinch hitters... pitchers are never judged on anything other than their ability to throw ... five tools are: hit, hit with power, run, field, throw. Willie Mays is the quintessential five tool player. Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio ...

Why should any pitchers be considered for eligibility to the Hall of Fame? Starters pitch in less than 25% of their team games. 162 games multiplied by 9 innings equals 1,458 innings. A player should appear in at least 80% to be considered full time. If a pitcher throws in 200 innings he appears in about 14% of his team's innings. A modern iron man throwing about 300 innings would be in about 20%. You may think that the pitcher is doing much more than players at other positions. If the pitcher is striking out most of the batters that he faces, I might agree. However, those other players are retiring the batters who hit the ball. Why should the pitcher get credit for retiring all those batters who do not strike out?

4,374 (1,458 innings * 3 outs) are retired in 162 nine inning games. Let's ignore minor anomalies like the bottom of the ninth when the home team leads and extra innings. If a pitcher strikes out 200 batters he is retiring 4.5%. 300 strike outs: 6.85%.
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Kershaw was 21-3, 239 SO.  For those who want to kill the win consider Roy Face 1959: 18-1, 93 innings, all in relief.  And lest we forget:

Are relief pitchers becoming too dominant? Mike Marshall 1974: 208 innings, 106 games, all in relief.  Sunday, September 14, 2014

Part of what probably helped Mike Marshall was that his pitch count might have been low because he had low strike out (143), walk (56) and hit (191) totals, relative to his 206 innings.  Those three things tend to increase pitch counts.  But modern pitching in 106 games, even if it had been only one inning per game, is still amazing.  Marshall averaged almost two innings per game.  All in relief
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The only MVP pitchers with fewer innings than Kershaw were relief pitchers.  In 1956 Don Newcombe threw 268 innings.  In 1963 Sandy Koufax threw 311.  The most recent MVP pitcher was Justin Verlander 2011: 251.  So what the heck are we talking about with Kershaw?

Kershaw gets a break in that the other two finalists also missed time in 2014 after being hit by pitch:
Giancarlo Stanton: 145 games, 638 plate appearances
Andrew McCutchen: 146 games, 648 plate appearances
- Clayton Kershaw: 27 games, 198 innings pitched.

What the heck?  You can play WAR games all you want but it doesn't make sense.  Clayton Kershaw should not be voted MVP. Personally, I like Stanton but I'm OK with McCutchen winning his second consecutive.

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