Clayton Kershaw vs. Andrew McCutchen
I’ll keep this brief. If you think Andrew McCutchen deserves the NL MVP over Clayton Kershaw because he is better, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you think McCutchen deserves it because he plays every day while Kershaw plays every fifth day, then I’m speaking directly to you.
Hi. You look nice.
On the surface, the argument sounds great. “McCutchen played 146 games and Kershaw played only 27 games, so that pitcher can’t be as valuable as the everyday center fielder.”
But what exactly does the everyday center fielder do compared to the starting pitcher?
Let’s not make this about performance. That’s a different argument. This is about the supposed value of an everyday player over a starting pitcher.
Kershaw pitched 198.1 innings. That means he recorded 594 outs. He allowed 170 hits and walks. He plunked two batters. I’m not sure how many errors were made behind him, but let’s just say it’s zero for the sake of argument.
That’s 766 plays affected by Kershaw in his 27 starts. Including his plate appearances (74), that’s 840 times in which Kershaw had a chance to impose his will on a game.
Now let’s look at McCutchen.
In his 146 games, McCutchen had 648 plate appearances. In the field, he had 308 chances. So that’s 956 times in which McCutchen had a chance to impose his will on the game.
So that’s 956 for McCutchen and 840 for Kershaw.
That’s 116 times McCutchen had an affect on the game more than Kershaw.
That sounds like a lot, but over 162 games, that’s 0.716 more plays per game. That’s less than one! Then you have to ask yourself how many times those 0.716 plays were lazy fly balls that even Ezequiel Carrera could have caught.
Not that Kershaw doesn’t have his own versions of a can of corn when he faces pitchers, but really, the difference between these two is minimal in terms of how much they affect what happens on the field.
I know, I know, you want to say the everyday guy has to deal with mental fatigue and the grind, but that makes it seem like Kershaw is drinking beer and smoking for four days and isn’t working out and studying film and prepping for his next start.
But it certainly sounds great when someone says McCutchen played 146 games and Kershaw played 27.
Now, take this knowledge and go vote for…what’s that? Voting is already done? Forget it then.