Bochy: Kershaw clear choice for NL MVP

Bochy: Kershaw clear choice for NL MVP

LOS ANGELES -- Bypass the formality of voting, manager Bruce Bochy urged, and hand this year's National League Most Valuable Player Award to Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

The Giants-Dodgers rivalry hasn't blinded Bochy to Kershaw's excellence. Many observers believe that starting pitchers aren't legitimate MVP candidates, since they don't play every day. Others contend that an exceedingly effective starter can influence his club's fortunes by preventing long losing streaks and buoying his teammates' confidence. Bochy wholeheartedly supports the latter viewpoint.

"The guy's the best in the game," Bochy said of Kershaw, who ranks at or near the top of the NL and Major League rankings in numerous categories. Kershaw also entered Wednesday with a 13-5 career record against San Francisco and a 1.44 ERA -- the lowest all-time figure against the franchise (minimum 100 innings).

Added Bochy: "I don't know if there's a more deserving MVP. Forget [the] Cy Young [Award]. I mean, those are 'stupid' numbers that he's putting up."

The last starter to win the NL MVP vote was St. Louis' Bob Gibson, in 1968. Gibson's statistics from that season remain legendary, particularly his 1.12 ERA and 13 shutouts. Kershaw began his outing against the Giants with a Major League-best 1.80 ERA, placing him on course to become the first pitcher to lead the Majors in ERA for four consecutive seasons.

Giants fans of a certain age will recall that one year after Gibson's triumph, legendary first baseman Willie McCovey edged Mets right-hander Tom Seaver in the MVP balloting, preventing a second straight starting pitcher from capturing the honors. Each received 11 first-place votes, but McCovey outpointed Seaver, 265-243. McCovey batted .320 with 45 homers and 126 RBIs in 1969; Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA.

Bochy also stamped Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner as the most deserving choice for the Silver Slugger Award, given to the top hitter at each position in both leagues.

"He's not just airing it out like he used to," Bochy said. "He's becoming more of a hitter."

Among pitchers with at least 50 at-bats, Bumgarner is a Triple Crown performer. He leads his counterparts with a .262 batting average, four home runs and 15 RBIs.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.