Someday, they might call it the Clayton Kershaw Award. But for now, it is the Cy Young Award that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander took home on Wednesday. Kershaw has won three of the last four NL Cy Young Awards. He is the sixth pitcher to win at least three Cy Youngs in a four-year period, joining current or soon-to-be Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Jim Palmer and Sandy Koufax.
There was little doubt that Kershaw would take home pitching’s most prestigious award. In fact, many are predicting that Kershaw will also win the NL MVP. Kershaw led the NL in nearly every pitching category: wins (21), winning percentage (.875), ERA (1.77), complete games (6), ERA+ (197), FIP (1.81) and WHIP (0.857). He also led the NL in strike-outs per nine innings (10.8) and strike-out-to-walk ratio (7.71).
Although Kershaw missed 45 days on the disabled list early in the season, he still threw 198 innings and tied his career-high for wins while also posting the lowest ERA of his career. He was worth 7.5 in WAR.
Kershaw was the unanimous winner. The Cincinnati Reds’ right-hander Johnny Cueto finished second with 23 second-place votes, while St. Louis Cardinals’ right-hander Adam Wainwright was third with seven second-place votes. World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner finished fourth. The Washington Nationals were the only team to have more than one pitcher finish in the top-12 in the NL voting. Jordan Zimmermann was fifth, Doug Fister was eighth and Stephen Strausburg was 11th.
The AL Cy Young award vote was much more up in the air going into Wednesday’s announcement. Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners and Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox all had legitimate cases for winning the award. In the end, it was Kluber who earned the award with 17 first-place votes. Hernandez was the only other AL pitcher to receive a first-place vote. He had 13.
Kluber emerged as a star in 2014 after a solid, but relatively quiet first full major league season in 2013. The right-hander won an AL-best 18 games in 2014 and made an AL-high 34 starts. Kluber had three complete games and a 2.44 ERA. His FIP of 2.35 ERA was the best in the AL. He struck-out 269 and he walked 51.
Hernandez led the AL with a 2.14 ERA in 34 starts. He led the league with 0.915 WHIP and he allowed the fewest hits per nine innings (6.5). Sale led the AL in ERA+ (178), but he made only 26 starts because of injuries, likely costing him Cy Young votes.