Adrian Gonzalez #23 and Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after Gonzalez scored the winning run in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Clayton Kershaw is the Dodgers MVP, no brainer. Well, except that Adrian Gonzalez has performed day-in and day-out all season long. But, none of that mattered before Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene in June. True, but Puig's success was directly aligned with Hanley Ramirez, and Hanley has been more consistent that Puig.
So, just who is the Dodgers MVP? With 31 games left in the regular season, things are winding down and everyone is eager to hand out those end-of-the-year awards that always tend to create a tornado of debates. On Sunday, Don Mattingly offered his thoughts on the matter, so let's take a look at some candidates.
Clayton Kershaw is not only an easy choice for MVP of the Dodgers, but his case for National League MVP (you know, the one that's an actual award) is getting stronger with each start. He is having a record-setting season with a 1.72 ERA that would rank fifth all-time in the franchise if the season ended today. That is even better than Sandy Koufax!
Kershaw gives the Dodgers a chance to win with every start. He gave up four runs twice this season, but never any more than that, and has 21 starts of two earned runs or less. He consistently gives the bullpen a break with only five (update: six) starts of less than seven innings, so his impact on the mound is felt for days since the bullpen gets some time off.
The last time a pitcher won the MVP award in the National League was the Dodger's Sandy Koufax in 1963.
Adrian Gonzalez has been the most consistent position player on the team. While it seemed every player went through their share of injuries and slumps, Gonzalez shows up to play everyday. In the darker times at the start of the season, Gonzalez provided a majority of the team's offense, and continued to be a force with the bat when he got some protection in the form of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig starting in June.
Gonzalez leads the club in games played, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI's, total bases and has strong support of his manager, Don Mattingly. On Sunday, Mattingly praised his first baseman, "I think over the course of the whole season, Adrian has been our guy because he has been the guy who has been able to put in the lineup everyday." He continued, "When, in early times, we struggled for offense, he was the guy that basically could give us that offense, he has been consistent when everyone else has gotten rolling, he has been doing his thing."
Many are quick to credit Puig and Ramirez for the Dodgers hot turnaround, saying that without them the Dodgers never would have been a winning team. Sure, throw in two insanely hot bats instead of a set of utility infielders and your team is going to get a lot better.
Problem is, how do you choose one as your MVP. They both missed the first two months of the season, and if you get one without the other, their impact would not have been as direct.
Having the luxury to argue over so many potential MVP-type players is a true sign to how good this team has played, something that Mattingly focused on more instead of a single player, "It's been a team thing, there have been a lot of guys who have had a good season and that's what we have talked about in the past. If you're going to be successful, you're going to have a lot of guys having a good season."
He continued, "When you win a lot of things have to go right, and then you have to pick one guy who has maybe been above and beyond that, and that's where you hopeful have to be splitting hairs at that point."
Splitting hairs is exactly what happens when arguing for Kershaw/Gonzalez/Ramirez/Puig as the Dodgers MVP. If that is one of the spoils of a $200 million payroll, then fans are definitely going to enjoy the team's new ownership.
Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers unofficial MVP, takes the mound on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs as he looks to continue his season-long dominance and gain more support for his NL MVP campaign (Updated: Kershaw may have only lasted 5.2 innings on Tuesday, but trust me, still MVP material)