NL Cy Young
To Be Announced: Thursday, Nov. 17
Expected Winner: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers (21-5, 248 Ks, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 4.59 K/BB, 5 CG, 2 SHO)
Deserving Winner: Kershaw
The pitching triple crown (league leads in wins, strikeouts, and ERA) has been won just 11 times since the creation of the Cy Young award in 1956, and every single time, the pitcher who won the it also won the Cy Young award. Justin Verlander will make it 12-for-12 when he picks up the AL hardware on Tuesday and it makes Kershaw the prohibitive favorite to be lucky 13 on Thursday.
There is an argument, however, that last year’s winner, Roy Halladay (19-6, 220 K, 2.35 ERA), was the best pitcher in the National League again this year. Halladay’s case rests on park factors and batting average on balls in play, neither of which is enough to distract from all of those bolded numbers in Kershaw’s stat line. Still, both pitchers threw essentially the same number of innings (Halladay led by the smallest amount possible, 233 2/3 to 233 1/3), and it was Halladay that led the league in ERA+ (again by a sliver, 164 to Kershaw’s 163). Halladay also had a league-best eight complete games, walked a league-low 1.3 men per nine innings, led the majors with a 6.29 K/BB ratio, and had less help from his defense and lucky bounces, with a .305 BABIP to Kershaw’s .274, doing all of that while pitching his home games in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park as opposed to pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.
It’s a compelling argument, but not an overwhelming one, which is why you’re unlikely to hear much complaint, even from Phillies fans, when Kershaw wins the award on Thursday.