Kershaw Deserves Cy Young Over Phils Aces
Continuing a debate posed on the 97.3 ESPN FM facebook page in September, I believe Clayton Kershaw should be named the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner at 2 PM on Tuesday when the announcement comes down from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. As great as the Phillies aces were in 2011, Kershaw slightly edges them out on my ballot:
1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: *21-5, *2.28, 33 GS, 5 CG, 233.1 IP, 174 H, *248 K, 0.977 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 9.6 K/9, 7.6 WAR
The Dodgers lefty was the most dominant pitcher in baseball not named Justin Verlander. He led the league in wins, earned run average, strikeouts, and due to better command of his lethal curve ball, cut down on his walks enough to allow less than one base runner per inning. The team behind him -- with the exception of MVP candidate Matt Kemp -- stunk. At just 23-yeard old, and getting better by the year, this could be the first of many Cy Young's for Kershaw.
2. Roy Halladay, Phillies: 19-6, 2.35, 32 GS, *8 CG, 233.2 IP, 208 H, 220 K, 1.04 WHIP, *164 ERA+, *1.3 BB/9, *6.29 SO/BB, 7.3 WAR
Doc is at the point in his career where we can give him the award every season without much debate. His consistency is remarkable from season to season and league to league. No one controls their pitches better. His eight complete games and league leading strikeout-to-walk ratio show that his command is as great as ever.
3. Cliff Lee, Phillies: 17-8, 2.40, 32 GS, 6 CG, *6 SHO, 232.2 IP, 197 H, 238 K, 1.02 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 7.4 WAR
The second best lefty in the league in 2011. You can make a case (better ERA, more IP, less hits allowed, more K's, better WHIP) that Lee was better this season than his Cy Young year of 2008. My only problem with his season? The roller coaster of inconsistency. He had three off the charts months -- 5-0, 0.21 in June; 5-0, 0.45 in August; 2-1, 1.42, 20-1 K/BB in September -- sandwiched around three OK months.
4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: *21-4, 2.88, 33 GS, 222 IP, 186 H, 198 K, 1.08 WHIP, 5.5 WAR
What a year for the budding ace of Kirk Gibson's staff. He came into the year with a robust 10-14 career mark and with the stigma of being a cast off of the perpetually pitching needy Yankees. He leaves the year a 21-game winner, with a bunch of respect from people around the game for developing two things imperative to his success: a cut fastball and toughness.
5. Tim Lincecum, Giants: 13-14, 2.74, 33 GS, 217 IP, 176 H, 220 K, 1.20 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 4.4 WAR
In 18 of Lincecum's 32 starts he pitched to a 3.02 earned run average, but his team scored between 0-2 runs in each of those contests. His record was 3-12 in those 18 starts, some of which included four pitching duel losses to Cy favorite Clayton Kershaw. Put him with a decent offense and he wins 20 games without a problem.
*Denotes league leader