There are so many statistics we can throw out about Clayton Kershaw this season, as well as tonight that it’s almost ridiculous. Kershaw bested Tim Lincecum for the 4th time in as many meetings this season, and became the 1st Dodgers pitcher to defeat the Giants 5 times in one season since Don Newcombe in 1951.
Kershaw picked up his 20th win of the season tying him for the NL lead, he lowered his ERA to 2.27 which is tops in all of MLB, and he added to his NL lead in strikeouts with 242, 10 ahead of Cliff Lee. If Kershaw didn’t just make a definitive statement that he is the 2011 NL Cy Young award winner then there’s obviously an East Coast bias.
He has better numbers across the board than any pitcher in the NL, the only factor working against him is he’s pitching for a team that is not in playoff contention. The AL has looked past this factor recently awarding the Cy Young to Felix Hernandez and Zach Greinke , pitchers on last place teams.
Considering how awful the Dodgers have been for the most part offensively this season, aside from Matt Kemp, the fact that Kershaw has as many wins as he does is that much more impressive. Want more proof you say. Opponents are hitting a paltry .207 against the 23 year old lefty. By comparison the batting average against for his main competitors are all well behind Kershaw. Kennedy is at .227, Lee .229, and Halladay .240.
If you look at WHIP Kershaw also has his competitors beat his .980 WHIP also top his competitors as Lee is the closest at 1.03, while Halladay at 1.05 and Kennedy’s 1.08 both come up short of the standard Kershaw has set. Lee has more shutouts and both Halladay and Lee have more complete games but that’s about the only area they have Kershaw beat.
Lee and Halladay both pitch for the team with the best record in all of MLB and Kennedy pitches for the club with the 3rd best record in the NL, while Kershaw’s club just moved to 1 game above .500, so they have that advantage over Kershaw. Offensively Kennedy’s Arizona ranks 5th in the NL in runs scored while Lee and Halladay’s Phillies rank 7th. The Dodgers rank 10th having scored 75 fewer runs than the Phillies.
Kershaw figures to make 1 more start this season, at pitcher friendly Petco Park in San Diego. Halladay and Lee are slated to pitch on Saturday and Sunday respectively against the Mets in New York, while Kennedy will likely start Sunday at home against the Giants. So each of the 4 has 1 more start to add to their season totals. However, if Kershaw does indeed win the pitching triple crown, Wins, ERA, Strike Outs, while also leading the league in batting average against and WHIP, then I think he is clearly the front-runner, but obviously I’m biased.
I just heard some dude on MLB Network who is a “Statistician” and a correspondent for Sports Illustrated who says the Cy Young is Roy Halladay‘s to lose. His biggest argument for Halladay is his impressive FIP, or fielding independent pitching. However, MLB.com doesn’t even list FIP among it’s pitching stats on it’s site so while I’m sure FIP is really important, and tells us a lot about just how good a pitcher is, I’m going to stick with the ‘old school’ stats.
Clayton Kershaw is statistically superior in all of the categories I just broke down above, while pitching on an inferior team, so really what else does he have to do. I would also imagine that the 2 Phillies pitchers will take away some votes from each other which could hurt their cause. i also worry that most East Coast voters do not stay up until 1 or 2AM to watch Kershaw and Kennedy pitch.
Regardless Kershaw has done everything possible to put himself in position to win the Cy Young, but whether or not if that happens remains to be seen. What Kershaw has done is become the first Dodger since 1990 to win 20 games and became just the 5 NL lefty in the last 100 years to win 20 games and strike out 240 batters. The other names on that list are Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Fernando Valenzuela and Randy Johnson. Considering he did something only 4 other guys have done in the last 100 years, he gets my vote.
For Dodgers fans let’s just hope that baseball writers recognize his brilliance and feel the same. Regardless Kershaw has had an amazing season and that will be the case whether or not a bunch of guys who probably haven’t seen him pitch more than 5 or 6 times all year decide to vote for him as the NL’s best pitcher or not.