Best Starting Pitchers
This Also Wasn’t a Surprise
This decade has been full of terrific hurlers and pitcher performances. But similar to Trout being at the top of the position player board, it’s not at all shocking to see Clayton Kershaw pacing the starting pitchers. While this group owns quite a bit of hardware when it comes to Cy Young awards, Kershaw has distinguished himself with three of those to go along with an MVP award.
After taking home the Cy Young award in 2011, that began a streak of seven consecutive seasons in which he finished in the top five (only one of those instances came outside the top three).
Owning the title of “best starting pitcher this decade” is all but locked up unless he has a terrible 2019 and Max Scherzer somehow gets to yet another level. The challenge ahead of Kershaw is to stay on the mound consistently. He enjoyed six straight years of at least 198 innings pitched between 2010 and 2015 before failing to toss more than 175 in each of the past three years.
A Pair of Teammates in a Similar But Different Place
Both are veteran left-handers nearing the end of their respective long-term deals. Lester has remained productive throughout his tenure with the Chicago Cubs, but his fWAR has consistently gone down since hitting a career-high 5.6 mark in 2014. Hamels was struggling quite a bit with the Texas Rangers before getting traded to Chicago, where he turned things around dramatically — in just 76.1 frames with the club, his 1.5 fWAR nearly matched Lester’s season-long total (1.7).
Lester is under contract through 2020 (along with an option for 2021), so he has a little more security than Hamels, who can become a free agent at season’s end.