Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee on pace for historically-great seasons

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In a piece posted last night, ESPN’s Christina Kahrl notes that lefties Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Cliff Lee of the Phillies are on pace for historically-great seasons, using Wins Above Replacement from Baseball Reference:

3. Just one pitcher in 10 years has produced a season worth 9.0 WAR or better

And that would be Zack Greinke for the Royals in his Cy Young season of 2009. But this season two pitchers might challenge that mark: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (4.5 WAR) and Cliff Lee of the Phillies (4.6 WAR and counting).

For pitchers, piling up big stacks of value from on-field performance is tough, especially in today’s workload-conscious era as teams mitigate risk. But even allowing for that, while there have been 182 pitching seasons worth 9.0 WAR or more, just 30 of those seasons have come since divisional play started in 1969.

Lee came close to crossing the 9-WAR threshold with an 8.6 effort in 2011 with the Phillies. Kershaw’s career-high was 6.5 in 2011.

Kershaw and Lee head a very stacked group of talented National League arms. They are two of eight in the league with an ERA of 2.51 or better. Comparatively, only two starters in the American League have an ERA of 2.51 or better (Clay Buchholz, Hisashi Iwakuma). It will be interesting to see who gets the honor of starting for the National League in the upcoming All-Star Game.

Tim Anderson on Joe West: “I don’t have much to say about him. Everybody knows he’s terrible.”

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During the top of the ninth inning of Saturday night’s 7-3 loss to the Cubs, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was ejected by umpire Joe West. Anderson attempted to complete a double play started by second baseman Yoan Moncada, but Javier Báez slid hard into Anderson at the second base bag to disrupt him. Anderson’s throw went past first baseman Matt Davidson, allowing a run to score.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria challenged the ruling on the field, but it was upheld after replay review. Anderson had a brief conversation with umpire Joe West then went back to his position. Shortly thereafter, West ejected Anderson, who became irate.

After the game, Anderson said of West, via Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago, “I asked him a question, and he kind of got pissed at me. I asked him if he saw [Báez] reach for my leg in the replay. He asked me if I was going to argue that, and I said, ‘No, I was just asking a question.’ And after that I didn’t say anything else. He started barking at me. Kept staring me down. I gave him, ‘Why you keep looking at me?’ Did that twice and threw me out.”

Anderson then said, “I don’t have much to say about him. Everybody knows he’s terrible. But I didn’t say much and he threw me out. It’s OK.” Anderson added about the play in which one can see Báez reach his arm out to interfere with Anderson, “Yeah, definitely. You could see it in the replay. That’s just one of the many that they missed in New York, I guess.”

Anderson’s criticism of West doesn’t come as a surprise. West has had a reputation as an instigator for decades. Major League Baseball almost never holds umpires accountable for their conduct on the field and some umpires, like West, take advantage of this knowledge.

It was a bittersweet ending for Anderson as he homered earlier in the game, becoming the first White Sox shortstop ever to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same season. It’s just the sixth 20/20 season in White Sox history, joining Alex Ríos (2010, 2012), Ray Durham (2001), Magglio Ordóñez (2001), and Tommie Agee.

Anderson accounted for the only run the White Sox scored on Sunday against the Cubs with an RBI double. On the season, he’s hitting .243/.284/.412 with those 20 homers, 26 steals, 64 RBI, and 76 runs in 594 plate appearances.