GLENDALE, Ariz -- Who’s the best pitcher in baseball?
Some might point to last year’s Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Others might go with past recipients like Justin Verlander, David Price or Felix Hernandez. But when I asked White Sox lefty John Danks who he believes is No. 1, he gave a different answer.
“Chris [Sale] is the best pitcher in baseball,” Danks said.
Better than all those guys who have a Cy Young Award in their trophy case? Danks fired right back.
“Give me Chris Sale in a must-win game,” he said matter-of-factly.
Unfortunately for Sale, he lost more games than he won in 2013. The White Sox ace went 11-14, but if you were following along, it wasn’t his fault.
Five times he gave up one earned run or less, but because of the team’s struggles on offense, he either took the loss or got a no-decision. Sale had the fifth-lowest run support in the league, getting just 3.20 a game. Scherzer, on the other hand, received 5.59 a game, third most in the majors.
Despite his losing record, Sale still finished fourth in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award. His 226 strikeouts were fourth best in the majors. His four complete games tied Price for the most in the American League.
But can Sale truly be considered the best pitcher in the game or was Danks just saying that because they're teammates?
Danks said he’s not playing favorites. He sincerely believes there’s nobody better than Sale.
“I thoroughly enjoy watching Chris throw every fifth day. He’s a great teammate,” and said again, “I would take Chris in a must-win game.”
So what does the humble Sale think about Danks’ bold statement that he’s the best pitcher in the majors? Let’s go to his locker and see what he thinks.
“I think he’s crazy,” Sale said laughing. “He’s obviously my best buddy and he’s supposed to say that stuff, but I think that’s pretty hard to fathom, especially seeing a couple of the other guys around the league.”
Sale then looked over at Danks and provided his own expert opinion.
“He’s not the smartest guy in our clubhouse that’s for sure.”
Give Sale some run support this year...and Danks might look like a genius.