Madison Bumgarner puts Clayton Kershaw in his all-time starting rotation

By Matthew Connolly

Surprise! In a one-on-one interview with Bleacher Report released earlier today, San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was asked to name his all-time MLB starting rotation, and rounding out the list was none other than rival superstar southpaw Clayton Kershaw.

Now, if you want to include a hurler from the present day in such a list, Kershaw is a pretty easy pick, especially considering MadBum’s not the kind of guy that would throw himself in with the likes of Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson—his other four picks, in case you missed that. After all, the Dodgers’ $215-million man is widely lauded as this generation’s top pitcher, and he himself has acknowledged that there’s still room for improvement (h/t Sporting News).

The real debate lies in whether MadBum was a little misguided in valuing Kershaw’s seven seasons of excellence over the complete career resumes of a laundry list of Hall of Famers. The four starters he listed alongside Kershaw are consensus top pitchers in their respective generations, but also find themselves amongst the elite in anyone who knows anything’s all-time rankings.

Think Clay’s on his way to joining their ranks?

His numbers to date might lead many to believe so. Going a little deeper, though, the kid’s seven-year peak WAR—so, his entire MLB career—barely places him in the top 100 historically, whereas greats like Walter Johnson, Cy Young and the Giants’ own Christy Mathewson help make up the WAR7’s top 10.

Before I go full stat geek on you, it should also be noted that Bumgarner and Kershaw have gone on record stating their mutual admiration for one another. In that same B/R interview, Madison also mentioned that sharing a weight room during the team’s roadies to Chavez Ravine helped fuel the fire of their burgeoning bromance.

So, what does all of this mean?! Not a whole lot, particularly with Bumgarner’s first start of the 2015 season just a few hours away. Let it be known, however, that San Francisco’s World Series hero would be wise to brush up on his MLB history, especially when he has the chance to give props to an in-house legend over the face of the enemy franchise.