Clayton Kershaw isn’t pitching as well as we’re used to, I get it. The traditional metrics (and we’ll get to the non-traditional ones shortly) say that Kershaw is on pace to have the worst ERA of his career and worst WHIP since 2009.
But, my friends, the hate has gone wayyyyyyyyy too far.
Friday afternoon I was sitting in a restaurant when ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption came on — a show I enjoy and whose hosts I genuinely respect. With no sound on in the restaurant, all I had to look at was the list of topics that scrolled down the right-hand side, which is when I noticed one that gave me nightmares.
“Has Madison Bumgarner passed Clayton Kershaw?”
Now, I get the need to have outrageous conversations and discussions for the sake of ratings, and even more so, the need for controversial headlines that don’t always match up with the actual conversation taking place.
Surely, I assumed, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon were better than to look only at the past seven months in answering this question, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
“One-time ace Clayton Kershaw,” said Kornheiser.
“Bumgarner hasn’t just passed him, he has lapped him,” said Wilbon.
It was horrifying.
They pointed to Bumgarner’s last few outings against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his dominance in the playoffs last season and even his home run off Kershaw as proof. They acknowledged Kershaw’s recent struggles and playoff collapses, and they ultimately came to the conclusion that Bumgarner was, in fact, the better pitcher.
I honestly could not believe it.
Bumgarner has never had an ERA under 2.77 in his career (this year his ERA is 2.84). Kershaw hasn’t had an ERA over 2.77 since 2010 (and in 2009 and 2010, his ERA was 2.79 and 2.91, respectively).
Kershaw has won three of the last four Cy Young awards, and the year he didn’t win it, 2012, he led the league in ERA, WAR and WHIP. Bumgarner has never finished higher than fourth.
Speaking of ERA, Kershaw became the first pitcher in history to lead the Majors in ERA in four consecutive seasons. In 2013 and 2014, he posted ERAs of 1.83 and 1.77 — the best two marks in the National League since 1995.
CONTINUE READING: Explaining Why Bumgarner Isn’t Even Better This Season