Clayton Kershaw is not a pitcher. He’s a baseball player.
Sure, the 26-year-old won a third Cy Young Award this year for his pitching, and most people will say his mound work is why, Thursday, he won his first Most Valuable Player Award; the first National League pitcher to win both in the same season since Bob Gibson in 1968 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kershaw led the NL in just about every major traditional and sabermetrics stat you could think of for a pitcher. But, you ask any Dodger this past season who their best player was, and I’d bet you $240 million they would all say Clayton Kershaw.
How could that be when he only played in 27 games? Well, those 27 games were the difference between the Dodgers collecting playoff bonuses and being the Padres.
During the 2014 regular season Kershaw did what the best athletes in every sport do for their teams. He terrorized opponents with his all-around game. Pitchers don’t go first-to-third on a single to center against a guy who has a rocket for a right arm. A ballplayer does.
For most pitchers, a popup bunt five feet from home plate is either a foul ball, or the catcher’s responsibility. Kershaw turned one into a rally-killing, double play.
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And, the lumbering lefty showed that in crucial moments he can swing it.
Those plays are not from a pitcher who shows up every fifth day, hits his 95-pitch count and calls it a day until the next charter flight into the off-season.
They’re the feats of a ballplayer. Kershaw showed his mettle to the extent that even Pirates and Marlins fans have refrained from blowing up Twitter saying Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton got robbed.
It took 46 years for another NL pitcher to be named league MVP. As far as I’m concerned the clock’s still ticking. Just like Mike Trout in the American League, the best ballplayer in the Senior Circuit in 2014 walked away with the trophy.