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Stats tell the story: Sale is MVP material

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale smiles in the dugout during one of his recent wins. With him (on left) is bench coach Gary DiSarcina. AP PHOTO

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By Neil Greenberg

The Washington Post

The race for Most Valuable Player is typically headlined by a position player among the top of the leader board in one or more of the Triple Crown categories. But every once in a while, a pitcher comes along and throws a wrench into the works.

This year, that pitcher is Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox.

Sale is in the midst of a monster season. The 28-year-old ace is setting career highs in strikeout percentage (36.5 percent of batters faced, a major league high), WHIP (0.880), OPS against (0.545) and ERA (2.57, lowest in the AL).

Sale is buzzing through the league with four pitches in his arsenal — a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider and change-up — with the fastball and slider accounting for 213 of his major league leading 229 strikeouts this season.

His 15 games with 10 strikeouts or more this year are not only a major league best in 2017, only Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan had more games with double-digit strikeouts than Sale at this point of the season.

He also has a good chance at recording 300 or more strikeouts this season. Projections have Sale finishing the season with between 306-309 strikeouts, which would place him alongside 2014 NL MVP Clayton Kershaw as the only pitchers in the last 15 years to meet or exceed that mark.

Sale’s historic performance should make him the runaway choice for the AL Cy Young, but there are some purists who feel that, because a pitcher plays every fifth day, they shouldn’t…

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