Mazurek: Pitching deserves MVP
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, November 3, 2016
It’s definitely been one heck of an October Classic, even if it finished up in November.
Unfortunately, I had to write this column ahead of Game 7 between the Cubs and the Indians, so the outcome is unknown to me. Either way, though, it was a hard-fought series with enough drama to air on Bravo or Starz.
Despite not knowing the outcome of the decisive Game 7, I thought I’d go ahead and make my cases for the World Series MVP for each team.
For the Indians, most people seem to flock to Corey Kluber as the odds-on favorite to win the MVP award. He’s been lights out in the Game 1 and Game 4 and he pitched Game 7 on short rest. If Kluber goes for just four or five innings and gives up only one or two runs, I think he should get the award.
The Cubs can’t hit him, and they might be the best offensive team in baseball. In Game 1, the right-hander pitched six shutout innings, giving up only four hits and recording nine strikeouts. Nine strikeouts. Add that to what Kluber accomplished in Game 4: another six innings with only one earned run allowed and another six strikeouts.
That’s certainly MVP material, especially if he pitches well in Game 7. Madison Bumgarner did it two years ago, and he was rewarded with the hardware. I can even see Kluber getting the MVP if the Indians lose, but he still pitches well. That’s how good he is.
However, a different name that’s currently flying under the radar is Jason Kipnis. Kipnis is currently hitting .308 in the World Series. That’s a solid average for facing some of the best pitchers in the world. Kipnis has also scored five runs, hit two home runs and driven in four RBIs.
Two home runs and an average over .300 should certainly put Kipnis in the MVP conversation. His two home runs are tied for the most in the series and his play at second base has been solid even when other facets of the Indians defense have fallen apart.
Unfortunately for Kipnis, one of his home runs came in the last half of a blowout in Game 5, and it didn’t have an impact on the outcome of the game. He’s perhaps not the sexiest choice for MVP, but he’s certainly been one of the Indians most consistent hitters all series.
If the Cubs win, there’s a little bit more uncertainty as to who takes home the MVP award. Jake Arrieta pitched two solid outings in Games 2 and 6, but the Cubs offense gave him a seven-run lead on Tuesday night and there wasn’t much pressure. Arrieta told reporters he was ready to pitch tonight if need be, and it may take a dramatic turn like that for Arrieta to win.
Another Cubs’ pitcher, however, does look to be the frontrunner: reliever Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman throws just one pitch, but he throws that pitch really, really, really, really, really fast. Like 105 miles per hour fast. And so far, Cleveland hasn’t quite figured out how to hit that or his mid-90s slider.
Talk of Chapman for MVP started after he pitched an eight-out save in Game 5 at Wrigley and all the pressure and expectations that come with closing out a game in front of home fans who haven’t won a World Series in 108 years. Chapman had never thrown an eight-out save before and if going above and beyond is something the MVP voters take into account, Chapman should be the Cubs representative.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.