MLB National League Awards Watch: Can Anyone Catch Kershaw?

The thing is, we’re spoiled.

It’s something new every day. For a while, it was blockbuster deals left and right as teams looked to either put another bullet in the chamber before a playoff run, or sit back and reload with some young talent.

Now, it’s about Felix Hernandez going another seven innings, and anything more than two runs at this point is a serious let-down for fantasy owners. Maybe it’s about the David Price vs David Ortiz match-ups that are sure to be a highlight on SportsCenter, regardless of the outcome.

National League fan? Don’t worry, you’re plenty covered there too.

The Dodgers are steamrolling ahead, with home field advantage squarely in their sights, and Giancarlo Stanton is hitting 450-foot homers like it’s going out of business. Which, it may be. Nobody in either league has more than 2, which pales in comparison to the seven times Stanton has done it this year.

See? We’ve got it too good. Even when our favorite teams have started to fade late (Noooo! Kansas City can’t have this division! #JVComeBack), the action is enough to pull us right back in.

Below you’ll find my picks for NL MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of The Year, as well as a few candidates who are still in the race to add some impressive hardware to the case at home.

Check back tomorrow, where I’ll cover the American League, and its potential trophy winners!

NL CY Young

Nobody talks about how efficient Clayton Kershaw is. I get it, it’s hard to look beyond the sparkling 1.76 ERA (1st in NL), and even when you do, all you’ll probably run into his 10.7 K/9 (1st in NL), or maybe his 0.85 WHIP (… You get the point).

There are plenty of great statistics on the Dodgers ace, and in my search to find my favorite, I plucked the perfect one. Among other things, Kershaw leads the National League in pitches per inning pitched, or, P/IP, with a miniscule 13.8.

Above all else, this just proves that even when you’ve heard all there is to hear about Kershaw in 2014, there’s always something else, and chances are, he’s leading the league in whatever it is.

In fact, coming up with anyone who even has a chance to dethrone Kersh is almost an insult, because nobody is on the same tier as #22 this season. The award is as good as his.

NL Rookie of the Year

Faster than a speeding bullet? The 18 times he’s been caught stealing say no.

Better than everyone else in a weak NL rookie class? Yeah, that’s better.

Hamilton’s #’s Through 118 Games: .268 BA – 59 R – 43 RBI – 43 SB’s – 18 CS

Billy Hamilton has been the spark-plug that everyone knew the Cincinnati Reds desperately needed, especially after losing Shin Soo-Choo, who had led the Reds lineup more than admirably last season.

Hamilton has risen to the occasion and added some extra just for good measure. He’s racked up over 110 hits, while rookie second baseman Kolten Wong holds down the number two spot with a measly 68.

Hamilton has a bit more competition than Kershaw though, and if Jacob deGrom can get healthy and make a few more starts for the Mets, he’s an immediate threat to Hamilton’s shot at his first award at the Major League level. There have only been 71 games started by rookies in the NL this season, not even close to sniffing the 438 games started by rookies in 2013. deGrom has started 16 of those games, and in 100 IP, his ERA is a strong 2.87. 

As long as deGrom ends up sidelined with a shoulder injury, the conversation is null and void, Hamilton will run away with the trophy. Literally. He could run away with it. We wouldn’t catch him.

NL MVP

The days of Bob Gibson, unfortunately, are long gone.

“Hoot”, or, “Gibby” as he was referred to by teammates and the press, was the last man in the National League to win the MVP award from the mound (1968). Looking at the St. Louis ace’s numbers from the ’68 season are nothing short of breathtaking.

W-L: 22-9 (including 13 shutouts… 13!)
ERA: 1.12
WHIP: 0.85
K: 268

For all you saber-heads, Gibson also came through with a WAR of 11.9, and a FIP of 1.77. Understandably so, nobody has come close to firing on all cylinders quite like Gibby was in the late sixties.

Until of course, Clayton Kershaw left the planet we call Earth and broke through into what I can only assume was Baseball Nirvana, pocketed some of the magic Voo-Doo, came back, and proceed to douse the league with awesomeness every five days. His FIP is better than Gibson’s in ’68, and a WHIP (0.86) that’s knocking on the door as well.

With a few more stellar starts, Kershaw can start to really set his sights on Gibson’s 1968 season, or more recently, the excellent season Pedro Martinez posted in 2000.

Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, and Giancarlo Stanton have the best odds of catching Kershaw, and two out of the three, like deGron, find themselves shelved on the disabled list. Tulo needs a new set of legs, and Cutch could use a fresh rib, instead of the broken one he suffered last week. Analyzing each of them however, and you have to wonder if they really could catch Kershaw.

Tulo would obviously have the better shot, but as of now he’s only played in 91 games, and what incentive do the last place Rockies ‘s have to bring him back any faster than they have to? McCutchen’s Pirates have a much better record than the NL West cellar dweller, but most of his numbers fail to match up to Stanton’s in Miami, who is on pace to hit over 40 HR’s and rack up more than 110 RBI.

What separates Kershaw from the others is the Gibson factor. What we’re seeing hasn’t happened since maybe Pedro Martinez in 2000.

Let me put it this way. What if I told you that in two years, Jose Abreu, the rookie big bat for the White Sox, would put it all together and hit 45 HR’s, 130 RBI, and he’d hit .305. It sounds video game-esque, but it’s not out of the question, is it? 

If the Dodgers ace continues his run of dominance, his numbers could end up being the best we’ve seen in the last 25 years. Toss in LA’s great record, and Kershaw is the clear front-runner.

Besides, against Kershaw, on pitches thrown in the lower 1/3rd of the strike zone, there’s a 49.7% chance you’ll swing and miss, and your odds of a HR are approximately 0.12% (1 in 773 pitches!). 

Because even when you think you’ve heard it all about Kershaw, there’s another stat waiting, and chances are, he’s leading the league.

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