Last time he tossed a no-hitter that could have easily been a perfect game. This time: eight scoreless innings where he allowed nothing but singles while striking out eight batters and walking only one. It’s safe to say that Clayton Kershaw is taking things to a whole other level.
Kershaw now has an 8-2 record, a 2.24 ERA, and has struck out 94 guys while walking only nine in 72 and a third. In June, he is 5-0 with a 0.97 ERA and only two walks to 48 strikeouts. Just crazy.
Kershaw is actually better now than he was in his two Cy Young seasons and the last three years in which he has led the league in ERA every time. How? He’s now turned into an extreme groundball pitcher, which gives the opposition even less of a chance to do damage against him than before. Over his career his groundball to flyball ratio is 1.26. This season: 2.77. Maybe it’s flukey, but it’s certainly impressive.
Someone got bent out of shape last week when I compared Kershaw to Sandy Koufax. Tell me: how is that comparison anything but apt?
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?