Madison Bumgarner’s talents often fly under the radar when it comes to debating baseball’s best pitchers. But for good reason, at least for the Giants’ sake.
Bumgarner, 23, fixtures himself in a rotation consisting of a two-time Cy Young award winner in Tim Lincecum, Mr.Perfect and the All-Star game’s starter in Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong, whose comeback story injects a soft spot in every baseball fan’s mind.
And to dampen Bumgarner’s spotlight even more, Barry Zito’s critics (a lot of them) don’t back off.
So here’s Bumgarner, trying to pave a way for more attention. Perhaps out-dueling Clayton Kershaw made that path slightly smoother, but in all reality, his success repeatedly flies under the radar.
But if winning a World Series game at the ripe age of just 20 doesn’t draw the bright lights, seemingly nothing will. Though capturing the coveted Cy Young award isn’t out of Bumgarner’s sights, and that would surely direct the lights his way. Of course, he doesn’t merely focus on his individual success, much like his fellow rotation mates in Cain and Vogelsong.
Heck, his masterpiece against the reigning N.L Cy Young didn’t even raise his eyebrows. But Kershaw didn’t hold back on his honest praise.
“You’re always in for a battle against these guys,” Kershaw said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Bumgarner. He pitched awesome. Two runs ended up being too many, and that’s just the way it was.”
Nothing seems to faze the 23 year-old southpaw.
He’s accomplished more than most 30 year-old veterans have. Yet, he’s just 23. Last year, Kershaw was just 23 and he took home the Cy Young award. Granted, it wouldn’t be fair to compare Bumgarner to Kershaw, but he’s heading down that bright road.
Maybe 23 is the age of the Cy Young. Kershaw posted a dazzling 2.28 ERA in his Cy Young campaign, and while it would be far-fetched to think that Bumgarner could lower his current 2.83 ERA to the elite 2.40 level, his current ERA is already very respectable.
Unfortunately, the win-loss record of pitchers still holds some valuable inside the minds of the Cy Young voters. But fortunately for Bumgarner, his win-loss record is right on track. His 14 wins ranks sixth in the N.L. Assuming he makes about eight more starts, he could potentially notch that win total to the 20 wins plateau. Although, the Giants’ offense would need to assist him in order to reach that paramount.
Wins and ERA aren’t the only two nuggets padding the lefty’s Cy Young case. His strikeout to walk ratio checks in at 5.00. Yes, that’s the second best mark in baseball, folks, trailing only Cliff Lee for the top spot. For the grand finale, his BB/9 rate of 1.70/9 also sits among the elite.
Underestimated? I’d say so. Generally, though, the underestimated don’t stay that way. Bumgarner probably doesn’t care either way.
The Cy Young award in won and loss in the final weeks of the 162 game marathon, however. Bumgarner just keeps getting stronger, though. And if there’s anyone that can string together a streak of Cy Young worthy starts, it’s Bumgarner.