Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw has terrified opposing batters since he entered the National League in 2008.
The bushy-bearded ace has posted a 112-55 record in 240 career games. His career ERA is the lowest among all active players at 2.43. Need more evidence of his dominance? He became the first pitcher to win the MVP Award since Bob Gibson in 1968.
Kershaw has received numerous accolades for his incredible pitching performances, and he won the National Leagueâ€™s Cy Young Award three times in the last four years.
His performance in 2015 is no less impressive. After beginning the season with a 5-6 record, Kershaw has returned to greatness by going 9-0 with 124 strikeouts since July, according to baseball-reference.com. Surely a pitcher of Kershawâ€™s caliber would be the favorite to win the Cy Young Award for the fourth time in five years.
Not so fast.
Though Kershaw may have fans in the Baseball Writers Association of America, which is the body that selects Cy Young Award recipients, itâ€™s far more likely that writers would vote for Kershawâ€™s teammate Zack Greinke.
Greinke, the long-haired blonde who won the American League Cy Young Award as a Kansas City Royal in 2009, made his case for gold last week, pitching seven innings and giving up only two earned runs, securing him his 18th win of the season.
Through Sept. 19, Greinke has a better record and lower ERA than Kershaw, and is he deserving of the leagueâ€™s most coveted pitching award?
Numbers never lie
So many factors play a role in deciding which pitcher is the best of his league. Wins, ERAs and strikeouts are the big three. A simple glance at a stats sheet reveals that Greinke wins two of these categories (wins, ERA), but Kershawâ€™s dominance in the third (strikeouts) is noteworthy. In the same amount of innings pitched, Kershaw has 79 more strikeouts than his counterpart.
While Greinke may not be as dominant on the mound as Kershaw has been since July, he has one thing his teammate does not: consistency.
Consistency, for the purpose of the discussion surrounding the Cy Young Award, is defined as how well a pitcher performs throughout the entire season. Consistent pitchers pitch well in wins, no-decisions and losses. Though pitchers have a hard time controlling whether their team puts runs on the scoreboard, they control, to a large degree, whether their team will win.
Kershaw is 0-6 with an ERA of 3.98 in losses. Heâ€™s winless in nine no-decisions with an ERA of 3.17, according to baseball-reference.com.
On the surface, both of Kershawâ€™s ERAs seem rather benign.
Now, look at Greinkeâ€™s numbers in the same situations.
Heâ€™s 0-3 with an ERA of 2.57 in losses. Heâ€™s been even more impressive in no decisions, posting an ERA of 1.82 in nine starts.
Naysayers may argue that Kershawâ€™s record is worse than Greinkeâ€™s because his team doesnâ€™t score enough runs for him. Although this has been true in years past, it doesnâ€™t play a factor in 2015.
Kershaw is 2-5 when his team puts up two or fewer runs. Greinke is 4-3 in the same span.
Give Greinke up to five runs and heâ€™s 10-3. Kershaw is 9-6.
More stats, like opposing batting average with runners in scoring position with two outs, show Greinke is more dominant than his counterpart.
For consistencyâ€™s sake, Greinke deserves the Cy Young Award. Whether his team wins or loses, Greinke consistently puts the Dodgers in the best position to win. When heâ€™s good, heâ€™s good. When heâ€™s bad, heâ€™s not that bad. When Greinke walks up to the mound, fans know to expect greatness. Kershaw, as evidenced by his shaky start, is slightly volatile, and that doubt is enough to give Greinke the vote.
Baseball writers of America, look at the numbers and watch the video. Yes, Kershaw has been fantastic, but is he better than his soft-spoken teammate?
Not a chance.