Clayton Kershaw entered the 2014 season as a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner and facing high expectations. He managed to raise the bar he’d set for himself with his body of work in previous years, and was named the NL MVP and won a third Cy Young.
Kershaw helped power the Los Angeles Dodgers to a second-consecutive NL West division title, but the Dodgers again failed to get past the St. Louis Cardinals — with Kershaw shouldering a large part of the blame as he struggled in both of his NLDS starts.
Nonetheless, the Dodgers’ ace is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball — a sentiment that was further proven by the majority of panel selecting him as the pitcher they would build a franchise around.
Kershaw was not the only player from Southern California to win the MVP last season — he was joined by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Naturally, it led to discussions of who is the “More Valuable Player.”
Although the Angels finished the 2014 season with the best record in baseball, Trout was unable to produce in the postseason like he did in the regular season, much like Kershaw. In a survey of 18 executives and managers from 12 teams conducted by Lyle Spencer of MLB.com posed the following question:
You are starting a franchise with a focus on the future, not one season. Which three players, excluding those on your own team, would be your top choices?
The results were a close race between the reigning MVPs with Trout narrowly prevailing at 14 votes to Kershaw’s 11. Although he did not receive the most votes, Kershaw had seven more votes than third-place Buster Posey and Giancarlo Stanton.
A National League general manager put into perspective Kershaw’s postseason struggles:
I don’t know how you could put more value on two rough postseason starts [against the Cardinals the past two years] than four dominant seasons,” an NL manager said of the 2014 NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. “Kershaw is the gold standard. If he stays healthy, he’ll rank right up there with the best we’ve ever seen.”
Last season, Kershaw and Trout faced each other three times in one game. Trout went 2-for-3 on the night with a double and run scored. However, Kershaw did strike out the center fielder in his second at-bat. Following the game, Kershaw refused to specifically address facing Trout, though he recently softened his stance on discussing the matchup.
CONTINUE READING: See Which Dodgers Prospect Was Named In The Survey