The Marlins’ ace is having a career year. Could he be considered for the NL MVP award?
Just in case you have been living under a rock for the past four months, Sandy Alcantara has been dominating the league. He began catching league-wide attention approaching the All-Star break when he went 12 straight outings going 7 innings or more. In a world where starting pitchers rarely finish games anymore, Sandy was threatening to do it every time he took the mound.
There were expectations that he’d be rewarded for his performance by starting the All-Star Game for the National League. Instead, with Dodger Stadium hosting the game this year, NL skipper Brian Snitker went in a different direction. Snitker handed the ball to Clayton Kershaw, one of the best talents of his generation. An All-Star many times previously, Kershaw never had the honor of starting the exhibition himself, and this allowed him to do so in front of his home fans.
✅ Pick off Ohtani
✅ Strike out Judge
Casual first inning for Clayton Kershaw
— ESPN (@espn) July 20, 2022
Alcantara had a successful relief appearance that night, but was not the center of attention like he deserved to be. It kills me that this had to happen to a Marlins player. However, if anybody was going to upstage him, at least it was the southpaw from Dallas, TX who set the bar for modern pitching dominance. Kershaw’s historic 2014 season resulted in him becoming one of 12 pitchers to win both his league’s MVP and Cy Young awards. Nobody has done that since.
Could Sandy’s 2022 campaign be just as special? Our ace has now pitched in 22 games this season and has been nothing short of superb. To compare, let’s take a dive into Kershaw’s first 22 starts of his MVP year:
- Clayton Kershaw (2014)—161.1 IP, 112 H, 1.73 ERA, 4.314 WPA
- Sandy Alcantara (2022)—158.1 IP, 108 H, 1.88 ERA, 4.845 WPA
Let’s get nerdy here. If you look closely, Sandy is behind Kershaw in a few areas, but he is not too far behind. They have similar numbers in IP, H, and ERA. Kershaw does have a noticeably larger amount of K’s (leading 194 to 141). However, I never really consider K’s to be that important to a pitcher’s legacy as they are worth just the same amount of outs as any other method. Neither does Sandy Alcantara. He has proven himself as the league’s most efficient pitcher while ranking 37th in K/9.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 4, 2022
After hurling a shutout versus the Cincinnati Reds, Sandy has upped his WPA to a league-leading 4.845. Kershaw’s WPA from his MVP season through his first 22 outings? 4.314. With the lack of support that Sandy receives from the Marlins offense, his run prevention is having a greater impact on winning than Kershaw was.
The MVP award voting process is flawed, and always has been. The winner of the prestigious award is decided based on the votes of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The writers consider a lot of different factors, both traditional and advanced, but there are biases that the BBWAA haven’t gotten rid of yet. Some voters completely ignore pitchers in the MVP race—even Kershaw received only 18 of 30 first-place votes.
A team has one goal for every game: to win. The impact a player has on the result of a game should supersede everything else. Over the course of a season, the player who has had the biggest impact on their team’s games should be regarded as the most valuable. With less than two months remaining in the 2022 regular season, no other National League star comes close to the Marlins’ ace in that department.
No, I am not saying that Sandy Alcantara is going to win the MVP award, but he absolutely should. There is nothing you can tell me that will sway my opinion if he keeps this up.