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Don’t sleep on Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award

Sep 29, 2012, 11:20 AM EST

Clayton Kershaw Getty Getty Images

Some assumed that R.A. Dickey wrapped up the National League Cy Young Award when he got his 20th win Thursday against the Pirates, but Clayton Kershaw is making things interesting.

Kershaw absolutely dominated the Rockies last night by striking out 10 over eight shutout innings as part of an 8-0 victory. The defending Cy Young Award winner was skipped in the rotation earlier this month due to a nagging hip injury, but he has allowed one run in 13 innings over two starts since returning.

Kershaw is just 13-9 on the year, so he isn’t getting as much attention as Dickey and Gio Gonzalez, but he currently ranks first in the National League with a 2.58 ERA. Dickey is at 2.69. Kershaw also has 221 strikeouts on the year, just one behind Dickey for the National League lead. Meanwhile, Gonzalez and Dickey are second and 14th respectively among qualified NL starters in run support while Kershaw ranks 35th.

Dickey has some really strong numbers to go along with an outstanding story and Gonzalez has the edge in wins to go along with a 2.89 ERA and 207 strikeouts, so they still probably deserve to be the favorites, but Kershaw isn’t giving up the Cy Young Award — or the Dodgers’ flickering playoff hopes — without a fight.

  1. ningenito78 - Sep 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in baseball. But he has the same chances as I do of winning the Cy Young this year.

    • D.J. Short - Sep 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Probably so. I’m a Mets fan, so you know what I’m rooting for. But Kershaw has been mighty good.

      • temporarilyexiled - Sep 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM

        Although the readers know me as a currently transplanted Giants fan (hence my screen name), I’ve also lived in LA and NYC, and as the Giants were awful (as in consistently trading away anyone good) in much of the 70s and 80s, I abandoned them for a long time. I was lucky enough to see the Dodgers win in 1981 and the Mets in 1986, while living in both places.

        More recently, the Mets and Dodgers have given us a couple of ownership-based dysfunction stories, until the Red Sox and Marlins decided Valentine and Guillen made sense for their organizations, and zoomed past those two giant markets in public stupidity.

        The Dodgers have made a new splash, and it’ll be next year before we know if it ends up being a new tale of woe. But the Mets, in spite of the various groans of agony from the fanbase I’ve read on this blog, have kind of faded into the background.

        As a Mets fan and contributor to this blog, what do you see happening with them going forward?

  2. dodger88 - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    If he gets to start against SF, he has a chance to lead the league in K’s and ERA. Of course, he only starts if the game matters and if he somehow pitches the Dodgers into the playoffs or a tie-breaker against the Cards it may improve his Cy Young hopes but I doubt he finished higher than 3rd behind Dickey and Gonzalez.

  3. braddavery - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Dickey has had a really nice season, but the Mets still stink and the Nats are in the playoffs and the Dodgers are making a late push. I think this is between Gonzalez and Kershaw.

  4. paperlions - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Kershaw, Cueto, Dickey, and Gio have all essentially performed the exact same this year….the only real difference is that Dickey has done it for more innings than anyone else (and with more panache).

  5. thebadguyswon - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Sorry Nats fans, the Cy Young has nothing to do with how good the team is. Dickey has the best peripherals of all of them and thankfully thats how most of the voters base their picks.

    • paperlions - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      First, no, he doesn’t have the best peripherals (Cliff Lee actually does), if he did have the best peripherals…those would manifest in his FIP and xFIP, which are quite a bit worse than Gio or Kershaw.

      Second, no, most voters certainly do not vote based on peripherals. Most still vote based on a combination of wins, narrative, and ERA.

  6. ningenito78 - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Plus Dickey has won like almost 30% of the Mets total victories which is crazy.

  7. claymatthewshairplugs - Sep 29, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Kershaw is the best pitcher of the 3 and IMO the best overall pitcher in baseball and this is coming from a Dodgers hater. There are days where Kershaw is absolutely unhittable. Dickey is a great story and Gonzalez has had a good year but Kershaw has been dominant since he’s been called up. This is a guy who I watched outpitch Lincecum when Lincecum was actually Lincecum. Not to mention there’s been three or four games this year where Kershaw allowed two runs or less and STILL lost. I doubt he’ll win the Cy Young but he is the best pitcher of the 3.

  8. Jeremy Fox - Sep 29, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Dickey also leads the league in IP (227) and Kershaw is close (219). Gonzalez is a touch behind (199). In a close Cy Young race, that matters–they’ve all pitched great, but Dickey and Kershaw have done a bit more great pitching than Gonzalez.

  9. sisqsage - Sep 29, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    It was obvious by TLR’s treatment of him at the all-star game that Dickey and knuckleballers in general aren’t respected as much as power pitchers like Kershaw.
    But what else does Dickey have to do to “earn” this coveted award?
    A 20-win season on a bad team, with all of the others measurables like ip and a good K number.
    Kershaw is awesome, and will be great for a long time, but don’t wet yourself over 10 ks vs. a woeful Rockies team sans three of its best hitters.
    Stats other than W-L record point to a strong case for Dickey, but you get the feeling from the original HBT post above and from managers and other scribes that Dickey is somehow less worthy, which is sad.
    Kershaw has moved back into the discussion with his immense talent, but 13 wins on a team much more talented (and who was in first place much of the first half) than the Mets?
    Kershaw still has a shot because the trend now in stat analysis of pitchers is to say a W-L record is overrated and not a true measurement of how good a pitcher is. A bad defense, weak offense or shaky pen, can lead to a lot of losses or erase would-be wins for a really good pitcher (ask Lincecum about 2011).
    What will also get CK a lot of votes is CY voters have chosen recently to reward pitchers (like King Felix recently and also Lincecum in 2009) with sub-20 W-L records because they were dominant in other categories, and shouldn’t be penalized for playing on bad teams.
    But all of this ignores how special Dickey has been this year. He never gives into hitters and gets them out on his terms. OK, it’s with a knuckler, but an out is an out.
    All things considered, isn’t it more impressive what Dickey has done on a bad team than to go 13-9 on a better team that still has a shot at the playoffs?

    • kingscourt25 - Sep 29, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      did you read the original post? RA Dickey had more run support than Kershaw, it has nothing to do with their respective teams record.

      this post isn’t ignoring dickey at all. it’s just recognizing Kershaw’s amazing season and how no one talks about him repeating, despite being the best or second best pitcher in the nl.

  10. dcfan4life - Sep 29, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Ive been rooting for Gonzalez, advocating Gio as hard as a homer can, and though i still think he has a solid chance of winning it, i actually believe the Cy Youngs going to Dickey. His numbers across the board are just better in most major catagories. Kershaw will be 3rd, possibly 4rth in voting depending on how many votes actually go to Kimbrel.

  11. footballchic777 - Sep 29, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Johnny Cueto definitely deserves to be in this talk…..no matter what Tony L might say! I do like R A Dickey too!

  12. chill1184 - Sep 29, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    If people are going to use the “he’s on a winning team” card then how come Cain and Cueto are no longer in the discussion?

  13. mrredlegz - Sep 29, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Dickey, Gonzalez, Cueto, Kershaw. Wins may be overrated, but 9 losses should not be overlooked. Those aren’t blown saves or bullpen meltdowns. 13-9 is a whole lot different than 13-2 with 7 no-decisions.

    • manchestermiracle - Sep 29, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      Except ERA reveals the truth: You can pitch a great game and lose without run support. Won-loss is a poor way to award a Cy Young. No pitcher can win consistently without offensive support.

    • lanflfan - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      How is it a pitchers fault if he gives up 1 run in 9 innings and loses?

      W/L records are NOT a good indicator of anything, just pretty stats.

  14. frn27 - Sep 30, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    Amen, Manchestermiracle. CY Young awards should be determined by a combination of era, ip, so, and whip. When your team ranks 35th in run support and you’re turning in gems like Kershaw there’s nothing more a pitcher can do. Wins are a poor calculator of a pitchers efficiency and effectiveness.

  15. lanflfan - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    As much as I would love to see Kershaw win it again, the 2012 Cy Young should go to RA Dickey. Gio Gonzalez is a close second. Kershaw somewhere in third.

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