Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the MVP award in the National League. There are those voices who feel pitchers should not win the MVP because they have their own award in the Cy Young. Others say that pitchers do not impact as many games as regular position players, pointing out a starting pitcher will appear in only 33 games while a position player will play 150 plus games. Myworld argues it is not the number of games you play but the number of innings you impact that gives your team a chance to win. Pitchers in general impact all nine innings of a game while hitters bat in four or five of those innings. A position player could influence a game because of his defense, but unless you are a catcher or a firstbaseman you can go all game without touching a ball..
Taking a look at AL MVP Mike Trout myworld notes he played in 157 games giving him an opportunity for over 700 plate appearances. That calculates to about 4.5 at bats per game, or an opportunity to impact four or five innings with his bat. Some of those bats will be productive but most of them will result in outs. In those productive at bats he was responsible for scoring 115 runs and driving in 111. Subtract from that run production his 36 homeruns and his total run production is 190. If you assume he only drove in one run or scored one run in each inning then you can project his offense impacted at least 190 innings.
The reality of baseball is that it is not so black and white. Some of his hits will drive in multiple runs while in some innings he may contribute hits that do not drive in runs but advance a runner who will later score on a third hit. There is also his defense to take into account for saving runs. Not being scientific and not wanting to study each box score to determine the number of innings Trout made an impact myworld will say he had a positive contribution in 150 to 190 innings.
When you look at Clayton Kershaw he started 27 games and worked 198 innings for a 1.77 ERA. Myworld is going to say he worked 22 complete games. That would calculate to five games in which he gave up one run in one inning, but held a team to zero runs in eight innings (we’ll assume a positive contribution is holding a team to zero runs, though some may argue that one run is not that bad if you win the inning). In 17 other starts he gave up one run in two innings but pitched goose eggs for the other seven innings. That would mean Kershaw would have made a positive contribution in 159 innings.
But just as Mike Trout will drive in more than one run with a hit, Kershaw will have some innings in which he gives up more than one run. So you will probably have to raise the number of innings he made a positive contribution. This could raise his positive contributions and when you compare it to Mike Trout the pitcher has a positive impact on just as many innings as a position player.
This is one reason why general managers pay so much for pitchers who in the end have more of an impact when it comes to influencing the innings in a game. They pitch all nine innings while hitters only bat in four to five of those innings. So despite the fact a pitcher plays fewer games they have just as many chances to make a positive influence on an inning.
It has been a slow news day so myworld went philosophical for a minute. Imagine contracts and lineups put together based on the number of innings a player influences in a positive direction, not just on his overall production. Granted, a pitcher who gives up multiple runs in an inning does get negative points for making it more difficult to win a game, despite the number of positive innings he may pitch.