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Could King Felix be a candidate for MVP ?

Could King Felix be a candidate for MVP ?

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on September 24, 2014

If Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is an MVP candidate -- and at this point he's very likely the NL favorite -- shouldn't Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, also a Cy Young lock, be an MVP candidate, too?

King Felix has lived up to his nickname, dominating the AL's main pitching categories -- not quite to the degree Kershaw has, but pretty darned close. Hernandez easily leads the AL in the all-important categories of WAR (7.3) WHIP (0.91) and ERA (2.07) and more. But unlike Kershaw, he ranks high but doesn't lead in wins, winning percentage or strikeouts (though his 236 strikeouts are still eight more than Kershaw).

To be fair, Hernandez doesn't pitch for quite as good a team, or nearly as good a hitting team, as does Kershaw. So that 14-5 record, while not on par with Kershaw's stunning 20-3 mark, is mighty impressive. Hernandez's performance is a factor in pushing the Mariners close to a playoff position, just as Kershaw is credited with helping the Dodgers into first place.

Hernandez has a couple pluses that Kershaw does not, and in the case of his record 16-game steak with least seven innings and no more than two runs, a plus no one ever has had. Hernandez, unlike Kershaw, also has not missed a start. And while both have been amazing in the second half, Hernandez has actually been slightly better in September.

Yet hardly a word is heard about Hernandez as an MVP candidate.

Kershaw's sub-2 ERA and gaudy won-loss record make him a better candidate to some -- though it should be noted Hernandez not only pitches for a lesser team, he pitches in the AL, making their respective ERAs (Kershaw's is 1.80) closer because the NL has no DH and the overall NL ERA is 0.16 lower than the AL's. Beyond that, the won-loss record is somewhat a reflection of the teams they pitch for -- though it's fair to argue that a better won-loss record does suggest value.

As for the leading positional MVP candidate in each league, it's basically a dead heat in terms of their performance, with Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton posting nearly identical numbers. Trout has 35 homers, 109 RBI, 15 stolen bases and a slash line of .291/.382/.565/.951, to Stanton's 37 home runs, 105 RBI, 13 stolen bases and .288/.395./.555/.950. Trout's Angels are a runaway winner in the AL West while Stanton's Marlins were on the fringe of the NL wild-card race until he was hit in the face by a pitch but fell out almost immediately thereafter.

Maybe the Marlins' inability to stay in contention opened the door wider for Kershaw, while the Angels' superior performance has sealed Trout's candidacy. In a way that seems fair since Trout was second in AL MVP balloting after Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers made the playoffs while the Angels did not, though of course one year shouldn't affect the next.

In any case, it still seems like Hernandez is getting short shrift at least in the MVP discussion. His performance and impact have been comparable to Kershaw's, yet almost nobody talks about Hernandez's candidacy. That doesn't seem quite right.

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