Monday 1 September 2014

Clayton Kershaw: Rolling To Award Season

By Special Guest Contributor Sam Wallace

Could Kershaw Win Another Cy Young AND MVP?

When Clayton Kershaw started the year with some nagging injuries, there were some who were worried about how his 2014 season would play out. People in fantasy baseball decided to wait a little while longer to draft him, and all of a sudden the playoff hopes of the Los Angeles Dodgers were a little bit up in the air. However, since returning to the rotation, he has been as dominant as ever. He has been so dominant, there is actually a decent chance of him winning both the Cy Young Award and MVP in the National League in 2014.

Truth be told, it has not been a particularly great year for individuals in the National League so far. There seems to be 3 other legitimate candidates out there to compete with Kershaw, and they all have their flaws. Giancarlo Stanton is as good of a hitter as you can find, but he is playing for a team that is not in contention for the playoffs. Andrew McCutchen has missed playing time recently due to injury, and Jonathan Lucroy at the end of the day is a catcher with somewhat limited offensive production. That leaves Kershaw, the best pitcher by far on the best team in the National League at this point in time.

Consistency has always been huge for Kershaw, and 2014 is certainly not an exception. In fact, he is somehow lowering his ERA after having a 1.83 in 2013. He is also at 16 wins already this year, and there is a legitimate chance he gets to 20 wins for the 2nd time in his career. However, most rewarding fact for him is that he is going to have a chance to win his 1st ever World Series title thanks to being on a solid team.

When it comes to being the most valuable player in the National League, there are going to be plenty of voters who are hesitant to give it to someone who only plays in 20% of their team’s games. Justin Verlander pulled it off in the American League in 2011, but it has not been done in the National League since Bob Gibson in 1968. With a strong September, Kershaw could once again stand out amongst his peers.

Monday 20 January 2014

Exit Sandman

The calendar has turned over to 2014, and the New York Yankees are trying to piece together a contender for this upcoming season. Things still feel a little different around the squad, as Marino Rivera has officially retired and can therefore no longer be counted on to close games. Fantasy baseball owners will definitely miss his production, but what baseball will miss more is one of the best individuals in the history of the game.
 Baseball certainly has suffered from its fair share of controversy in the past, but that never seemed to be anywhere near Rivera. It is rare that such a dominant pitcher is also so universally liked by not only his teammates, but also his opponents. In movies, closers are often depicted as the villains who are a little crazy. In fact, there are quite a few closers who are not exactly all there. However, during Rivera’s farewell tour, fans around the United States got to see one of the most graceful yet overpowering pitchers take the mound in the 9th inning and close out a victory.

After converting from an infielder to a pitcher, Rivera basically got away with throwing one pitch his entire career. It just so happens that that one pitch might be the most unhittable pitch of all time. His cutter was dominant against right-handed and left-handed hitters during his entire career. Even when his velocity started to go down a little bit, he was still able to place the ball where he needed to in order to have success. In an age where most closers have multiple pitches and even throw harder than him, Rivera kept it pretty simple while being very dominant.

Fittingly, Rivera will be the last player in baseball history to where the number 42. It has been officially retired throughout baseball because of Jackie Robinson, but the Yankees will probably do something to make sure that they honor Rivera as well. New York will be forced to find a new closer this season, and fantasy baseball owners will have to finally targets somebody else. The New York Yankees might be trying to move on, but replacing Rivera will be easier said than done in 2014 and beyond.