Which Dodgers award winners were the most unlikely?
2011 National League Cy Young Award
Current Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career through the 2020 season. That included three individual Cy Young Awards and the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player.
While there is no debating Kershaw’s Cy Young wins in 2013 and 2014, or even his MVP choice in 2014, there is less certainty around his award in 2011.
The 2011 National League Cy Young award essentially came down to two players; Kershaw and Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Kershaw, as usual, was excellent and tied for the National League lead with 21 wins and put up a 2.28 ERA, a 2.47 FIP, and a 9.57 K/9 over 233.1 innings of work for the Dodgers. That resulted in an fWAR of 7.3 on the season.
Not to be outdone, Halladay threw 233.2 innings on the season, including eight complete games, 18 wins, a 2.35 ERA, a 2.20 FIP, a K/9 of 8.47, and a National League-leading fWAR of 8.7. The biggest difference in wins above replacement value being Halladay’s stellar control (1.35 BB/9 vs Kershaw’s mark of 2.08) and his ability to keep the ball in the park (0.39 HR/9 vs 0.58).
However, what makes Kershaw’s win even more amazing isn’t the fact that he took the award over Halladay, but that he did so by such a wide margin. Kershaw received a 92% share of the ballots versus Halladay’s 59%, and Kershaw also took home 27 of the 32 first-place votes, with Halladay getting four, and Ian Kennedy of the San Diego Padres got the remaining vote. Halladay may have been hurt a bit by teammate Cliff Lee‘s own candidacy, with Lee appearing on 40% of the ballot, but that doesn’t explain the large margin in first-place votes.
So while an argument could be made for either candidate, advanced statistics favor Halladay and he ultimately deserved the win by a hair. The voters obviously saw it much differently.