Heading into 2014, everywhere you look, you’ll see that Clayton Kershaw is the consensus no. 1 starting pitcher. The young, now extremely wealthy Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher has been one of, if not the best pitchers in all of MLB, and at 26-years old, he still has a window of time to get even better.
I have Kershaw projected to record 19 wins, 235 strikeouts, a 2.39 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. I obviously have Kershaw ranked as my no. 1 starting pitcher for 2014, but how far ahead is he from the guy who’s ranked no. 2?
To put it bluntly, if the gap between Kershaw’s value and the no. 2 starting pitcher is wider than Michael Strahan’s two front teeth. If you aren’t familiar with how I rank players (if you’d like an in-depth explanation, you can find it in my top 100 pitchers), I use a process that takes a player’s projection and projects what their value is going to be compared to the league average.
When it comes to the batters, Miguel Cabrera projects to be the most valuable player with an overall projected value score of 10.814; right behind him, Mike Trout projects to be the second-most valuable player with a projected score of 10.776. When it comes to these two, their scores are so close that if you have the no. 1 pick, you really can’t go wrong as long as you select one of the two.
After Cabrera and Trout, the third-ranked batter is Ryan Braun, with a projected value score of 8.398, that’s a 2.378 (22 percent) drop in projected value, which is fairly stark.
When it comes to the starting pitchers, Kershaw received a projected value score of 10.527. The second ranked pitcher, Adam Wainwright, has a projected value score of 7.054, a 3.473 (33 percent) drop in value. Just think about that for a second. Heading into 2014, Kershaw is projected to provide 49.2 percent percent more value than the next best starting pitcher in baseball.
Never before have I felt that any starting pitcher was worth a first-round pick. This year though, I believe a strong case can be made that Kershaw is deserving of the third overall pick. How valuable is Kershaw? Extremely.