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Bad Baseball Takes: Is Clayton Kershaw not an ace?

What makes a pitcher truly great?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone’s got an opinion, so the saying goes. And while everyone is entitled to those opinions, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right. Or even remotely in the vicinity of logic and fact. With Twitter, we are given an opportunity to see some of the most bizarre and wildly head-scratch-worthy baseball takes.

This offseason, I’ll be regularly picking apart some of the best (or worst?) of these egregious takes.

Let’s get started.

Now, I am fairly certain Jaymes does not actually believe Wade Miley is actually a better pitcher than Clayton Kershaw, but let’s dive into this statement a little.

There is no definition of what makes a pitcher the “ace.” A team can have a full five-man pitching rotation and not have an ace. And sometimes an ace will surprise you by emerging out of nowhere (we see you, Blake Snell). Aces can fall from grace, they can be a flash in the pan, but the truest aces are recognized by their consistency season to season. An ace is one of those things you know when you see. They are the most reliable pitcher on the roster, the one who fans are most excited to see week after week. They have a finely tuned arsenal of pitches they can command with skill and power.

Bottom line, an ace is the player whose image you want hanging on a thirty-foot poster in the hallowed halls of your home stadium. He’s the guy whose name kids put on their jerseys. An ace is a workhorse, a leader, and someone always striving for perfection.

So with that in mind, let’s circle back to Jaymes’s assessment that Wade Miley is somehow more of an ace than Clayton Kershaw. Cool.

Wade Miley, in eight years with five different teams (and 212 starts, to Jaymes’s metric above), has a career ERA of 4.26, started only 16 games in 2018. This season is arguably the best he has been since his All-Star season in 2012. With the Brewers this year he’s posted a healthy 2.57 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 1.215 WHIP. Pretty good. In the postseason he has been an absolute monster. In two appearances so far he has yet to allow a single run, and has a 0.353 WHIP. Yes, he’s been very, very good in two games. Two games.

Clayton Kershaw has spent his entire 11-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he has a career ERA of 2.39 (in 316 starts). Let’s pause there. Kershaw’s 11 YEAR ERA is less than the one-year best ERA of Wade Miley. Kershaw is a seven-time All-Star, pitching Triple Crown winner, Gold Glove winner, NL MVP, and three-time Cy Young winner. In 2014 his SEASON ERA was 1.77. He has had six seasons with a sub-1.000 WHIP. in 2016 his SO/W ratio was 15.64.

Kershaw’s career WAR (per FanGraphs) is 61.6.

Wade Miley’s is 13.8.

Where the attitude gets the faintest hint of accuracy is in the postseason, where Kershaw is notoriously plagued by bad luck. In his postseason career, over 26 games, Kershaw has a 4.26 ERA, and exactly a .500 W/L ratio. Kershaw isn’t exactly bad in the postseason, but he doesn’t dominate the same way he does in the regular season, and that’s where an idea that Wade Miley might be better has its only basis in reality.

Yes, on the smallest of sample size scales, Wade Miley has performed better.

Unfortunately for Kershaw and the Dodgers, the postseason is all about small sample size victory.

So, no. Wade Miley is not the ace here. Kershaw is the undisputed ace, one of the best pitchers of a generation, and a future Hall of Famer.

But in the postseason, it might be Miley who comes away the victor.