If you’ll allow me to make whatever the opposite of a hot take is, I’ll go ahead and assert that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the majors. This is almost a law of the universe, at this point — a law I don’t intend to contradict here. As for who’s next on the list, though, there’s more room for reasonable debate. One might ask, “Who’s the second-best pitcher in major-league baseball?”
In fact, I did ask it. According to the highly unscientific poll I took of my Twitter followers, Max Scherzer is an extraordinarily popular answer – and for good reason! Over the past four seasons he’s posted a 2.95 ERA, 2.90 FIP, averaged 263 strikeouts a year, and won two Cy Young Awards. You could also make cases for guys like Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and the always underappreciated Johnny Cueto. For any of those pitchers to be the second-best pitcher in baseball, though, they’d have to surpass the guy who generates exceptional results while commanding what I might argue is the most jaw-dropping starting pitcher repertoire we’ve ever seen: Noah Syndergaard.
There’s a video-game performance quality to what Syndergaard does on a baseball field that I’m not sure we’ve seen since Barry Bonds retired. We’ve had elite players, sure – Kershaw and Mike Trout are pretty dang good, after all – but there’s a real “this shouldn’t be humanly possible” quality to Syndergaard’s pitching.