Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting despite a litany of league-leading stats: ERA (2.53), WHIP (1.023), hits allowed per nine innings (6.72), pitching WAR (6.2, according to Baseball-Reference.com), starts (33, a 12-way tie). He also finished second in strikeouts and innings pitched to the winner, R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets.
Today’s poll question: Is this the biggest robbery job ever against a Los Angeles Dodgers player in postseason awards voting? (Full disclosure: I’m a BBWAA member but did not vote for this award.)
Consider the following contenders, in reverse chronological order:
2012 Cy Young: R.A. Dickey was a feel-good story — a 37-year-old journeyman knuckleballer who was born without an ACL — and it helped that he pitched in New York. It also helped that he went 20-6 and led the NL in wins, complete games and shutouts. Kershaw led the league in almost every other important category, but finished a distant second (209 to 96) in voting points.
2011 MVP: Matt Kemp was better than Ryan Braun in every statistical category besides batting average (.324 to Braun’s .332) and slugging percentage (.586 to Braun’s .597). The Brewers made the playoffs, the Dodgers did not, and Kemp didn’t lose the award by much (388 to 332). Did we mention that Kemp never failed a drug test the following winter?
1995-97 MVP: Mike Piazza put together the best three-season offensive run by any catcher in major-league history. The Dodgers backstop hit no fewer than 32 home runs and batted no lower than .332 in any season yet, every single time he came up for MVP, he somehow fell short. Those awards went to Barry Larkin, Ken Caminiti and Larry Walker.
1974 Cy Young: Dodgers pitchers went 1-2 in the voting this season, with reliever Mike Marshall beating starter Andy Messersmith. Messersmith tied for the league lead in wins (20-6) and led in strikeouts. Marshall set the all-time record by appearing in 106 games, saving 21, and posted the better ERA (2.42 to 2.59). He set an interesting and important precedent for relievers who won the award.
1966 MVP: This award comes down to your philosophy: Should pitchers be given the same weight as hitters in MVP consideration? If so, you have to wonder how Sandy Koufax finished second after going 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA while completing 27 games over 323 innings. It was possibly his best season ever — definitely his last — yet Roberto Clemente (29 HRs, 119 RBIs, .317 average) won the award by a 218-208 voting margin.