Why not Kershaw?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Biogenesis is over.


Now let's talk about the National League MVP race.

On second thought, there really isn't much to say. The choice should be obvious.

Meet Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball.

Kershaw has looked so comfortable at Chavez Ravine this season, it's like he's been pitching in a bathrobe and slippers. He owns a 1.59 ERA in 13 starts at Dodger Stadium this season.

That's not to say he's looked uncomfortable on the road. In 10 away starts, opponents are hitting just .167 versus the lefthander.

Speaking of lefties, if you are one, good luck to you. Southpaws are hitting only .125 against Kershaw this season.

Want to know the last time Kershaw threw fewer than seven innings? You'd have to go all the way back to June 21st against San Diego. Kershaw lasted six innings in that start.

Some of the things Kershaw is doing right now are just silly. His 1.87 ERA is the lowest we've seen in the majors since 2005 (Roger Clemens also had a 1.87 ERA that season).

Want me to keep going? Kershaw's WHIP (0.86) and batting average against (.185) are the lowest we've seen since Pedro Martinez's Cy Young season in 2000 (1.74 ERA, .167 AVG against).

Even during Kershaw's worst month (June) his ERA was still under three (2.65 in five appearances).

This whole Kershaw being awesome at baseball thing isn't exactly breaking news either. Kershaw's been doing this for five years now (66-38, 2.48 ERA since 2009).

Plus, shouldn't the MVP award go to, you know, the player who is most valuable? With the highest wins above replacement in the major leagues (5.9), choosing Kershaw for MVP seems like a no-brainer.

Of course, I'm not the one who needs to be convinced. Kershaw's fate will be decided by the 30 writers who, unlike me, are eligible to vote for the National League MVP award. And if history has proven anything it's that pitchers are often given a raw deal when it comes to MVP voting.

It's not unprecedented for a pitcher to win MVP. Justin Verlander took home American League MVP honors two years ago.

But it is rare. Verlander, Dennis Eckersley, Roger Clemens and Willie Hernandez are the only pitchers in the last 30 years to win the award.

I think you could argue that Kershaw is actually having a better season than the one Verlander had when he won MVP in 2011. That year Verlander won 24 games while posting a 2.40 ERA.

Certainly, Kershaw won't match Verlander in wins (he's 10-6 so far) but he's light years ahead of Verlander in the other categories (better WHIP, lower opponents' batting average, lower ERA).

And if you do want to hold Kershaw's win total against him, keep in mind that only five pitchers in baseball have received less run support than Kershaw this season (3.22 runs per game). Verlander was among the league leaders in run support during his breakout 2011 campaign (4.56 runs per game).

Part of the reason Verlander won the MVP that season was because there wasn't a dominant position player to choose from. Jacoby Ellsbury had the numbers (.321, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 39 SB) but Boston's September collapse doomed his chances. Miguel Cabrera's statistics were strong as well (.344, 30 HR, 105 RBI) but calling him the league's most valuable player may have been a stretch.

A similar scenario seems to be unfolding for Kershaw this season. Carlos Gonzalez (.302, 26 HR, 70 RBI, 21 SB) and Yadier Molina (.330, 17 HR, 63 RBI) have both had standout seasons but neither player has been able to stay healthy. Buster Posey's bid for a second consecutive MVP has been hindered by the Giants' lack of success while Andrew McCutchen has regressed from a season ago (.307, 15 HR, 62 RBI compared to .327, 31 HR, 96 RBI in 2012).

All signs point to Kershaw. And why not? His team is in first place and with the Diamondbacks in free fall mode (6-10 since the All-Star break), they're likely to stay there.

The best player on the league's hottest team ... it just makes too much sense doesn't it?

So much sense that it probably won't happen. Remember, we're living in a world where Alex Rodriguez is making his season debut on the same day he got suspended for 211 games.

But if logic prevails, so will Kershaw.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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