In a vote the writers simply could not get wrong, Clayton Kershaw emerged as the clear-cut Cy Young winner. Perhaps clearer cut than first expected as the Dodgers’ lefty nabbed 27 first-place votes compared to just 4 for the Game’s Greatest Hurler. For all the progress made in recent years, consider this a victory (in part) for the old guard. Wins and ERA carry the day. Same as it ever was.

The eerie similarities between the final pitching lines of Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are, um, eerie.

They pitched 233 innings each (give or take a few thirds). The allowed 66, 65, and 66 runs respectively. They essentially posted WHIPs of 1.00. There is very, very little to choose between them. Kershaw struck out the most but also walked more batters. Cliff Lee surrendered the most home runs, Roy Halladay the least.

How do you separate a race which is a virtual dead heat beyond wins? How can you fairly break a deadlock based on subjectively judged earned or unearned runs?

It has to be the ballpark. It must be the ballpark. Which is why this award deserved to go to Roy Halladay.

Roy Halladay pitched his innings in an environment which made it more difficult to do his job. The difference is slight but, if we’re looking for differentiators, give this one to Halladay. He surrendered a mere ten home runs on the season, a season in which he made 15 starts at Citizen’s Bank Park, a noted haven for left-handed home runs.

He also had the edge in both flavors of WAR, by a sizeable margin on Fangraphs (8.2 to 6.8 & 6.7) and ever-so-slightly on Baseball Reference (7.4 to Kershaw’s 7.0 and Lee’s 6.9.)

There is no real wrong answer for this award. EXCEPT FOR THE GUY WHO GAVE IAN KENNEDY A FIRST-PLACE VOTE.

As much as there is room for down-ballot fun, this is borderline inexcusable. Worse than the votes for John Axford (two fifth place votes), it made a mockery of an award that Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee all legitimately earned and deserved in equal measure.

Which is a shame because this was a great, great year for pitching. The Phillies rotation, Kershaw’s amazing performance and the incredible Giants staff made for great drama and discussion. Instead it comes back to wins. Again. Two steps forward, my friends.

Comments (8)

  1. At least one voter left Kennedy of the ballot.

  2. KLAW had a good reference that S.O.S. made a difference too. Kershaw had 60+ innings vs the Padres and Giants, whereas Halladay had 16 vs the two worst offenses in the league

  3. The same thing was true in the AL with Verlander vs. Sabathia, although not to as great an extent.

  4. I would have gone with Halladay (for the arguments listed above) and Verlander. But I would have been very tempted to put Sabathia #1. If Verlander pitched against the same competition as CC, I’m not sure his #’s would have been better.

  5. Clayton Kershaw had a great year and will be around for a long time nice choice. He just only going to get better.

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