Clayton Kershaw should not be MVP
by Tony Medley
How can anyone
seriously consider Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw as MVP? He is
apparently incapable of pitching a complete game and his own manager,
Don Mattingly, doesn’t trust him to pitch the ninth inning in close
games (or in any game, for that matter). Once he’s thrown 100 pitches,
he’s out of there.
In the old days,
pitchers pitched complete games. Baseball guru Branch Rickey, who
developed baseball's farm system in the 1930s with the St. Louis
Cardinals, spoke the sentence that should define how the game is
managed. "Pitching," said Rickey, "is 80% of the game." It would have
been unthinkable to pull Warren Spahn or Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson or
Lefty Grove or Bob Feller or any pitcher of the era before around 1970
like this. In fact, had anyone tried to pull Gibson from a close game
because he had thrown 100 pitches, that foolish person would have risked
having Gibson tear his head off in front of 50,000 fans.
Agent Scott Boras uses
the argument that pitching more than 100 pitches a game shortens a
pitcher's life. Well, if that's true, how could people like Christy
Mathewson (435 Complete Games out of 552 starts, 78% in 16 years) and
Grover Cleveland Alexander (437/559, 78% in 20 years) and Lefty Grove
(298/457, 65% in 17 years) and Bob Feller (279/484, 58% in 18 years,(
but he missed what would have been his four prime years because of WWII:
Feller enlisted in the Navy 2 days after Pearl Harbor) and, well I could
go on and on and on (all the greats from the past completed more than
half the games they started), pitch complete game after complete game
and still last 15-20 years in the big leagues? In an era where everyone
is apparently getting bigger and stronger, have pitchers, alone among
athletes, become 90-lb. weaklings?
percentages with Kershaw’s: in 7 years he has started 207 games and
completed only 17, for a percentage of 8.2%! This is an MVP?
What's sad is that this
ridiculous handling of pitchers has gone on for so long that nobody
questions it. There is nary a mention of it in the media. Even Kershaw
never complains. So it continues.
Rickey's dictum is
incontestably true, but the people who manage today just don't recognize
that. They all fall prey to the group think that nobody can pitch longer
than seven innings or throw much more than 100 pitches today. They also
apparently think that pitchers are fungible, that there’s no difference
between a Clayton Kershaw and someone sitting in the bullpen. It is
absurd and it's why I find it almost impossible to watch baseball today.
I don't care who is in the bullpen, you don't pull a starting pitcher
who is in total control of a game for a relief pitcher who isn't close
to the quality of your starting pitcher.
When Kershaw proves he
can pitch a complete game and when his manager trusts him to pitch the
ninth inning in a close game, then maybe he can be considered as MVP.
Until then, Young and Feller and Mathewson and all the others would
laugh him and all the other 100-pitch wusses masquerading as starting
pitchers out of the dugout.