Thursday, November 13, 2014

Clayton Kershaw takes Home the National League MVP Award

To the disdain of Dodger haters everywhere, Clayton Kershaw has been named the National League MVP for the 2014 Baseball season.  He becomes the first pitcher to win the award since Bob Gibson in 1968, and the first Dodger since Kirk Gibson in 1988.

Overall, this is just the 10th time a pitcher has ever been awarded the MVP in the National League; joining a list that includes Carl Hubbell (twice), Dizzy Dean, Bucky Walters, Mort Cooper, Jim Konstanty, Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson.  Kershaw is also the third Dodger pitcher to come home with the big award - more than any other club.  For the 11th time a Dodger has won the MVP - Roy Campanella (three times), Dolph Camilli, Jackie Robinson, Newcombe, Maury Wills, Koufax, Steve Garvey and Kirk Gibson.

As you know, Angels outfielder Mike Trout took home the American League MVP award earlier today, as well.  Per a BBWAA release:
This was the 11th time players from one market were MVPs the same year and the fifth time involving the Dodgers. While in Brooklyn, Camilli won in 1941 with the New York Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio; Campanella and the Yankees’ Yogi Berra won in 1951 and ’55, and Newcombe won with the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle in 1956.
(pic via @Angels on twitter)
Vote totals for the National League ballot was close.  Kershaw and second place Giancarlo Stanton were separated by just 57 points.  Kershaw received 355 points (18 first place votes) compared to Stanton's 298 points (8 first place votes).  Andrew McCutchen was a close third with 271 points (4 first place votes).

I had written this previously on my ballot for the BBA (BAseball Blogger Alliance) postseason awards:
You can call me a homer all you want, but this was clearly one of those seasons where not a single non-pitching position player established themselves as the leagues best.  So, it's only appropriate that a pitcher of Kershaw's class be considered for MVP.  After all, no batter came close to eclipsing Kershaw's 8.0 WAR for the season, and no player was more impactful to their teams regular season success.  Consider this, when Clayton started his 41 inning scoreless innings streak on June 13th the Dodgers were 8 games back of the Giants.  By the time the streak was over they had a 0.5 game lead in the division.

Of note, back in late-July there was a series of incidents during a game against the Cardinals where Hanley Ramirez was hit by a pitch around the head by the infamous Joe Kelly.  Kershaw, seeing the lack of respect that pitcher had for his own abilities and the Dodgers, retaliated in the most professional of ways.  He threw a purpose pitch in the perfect spot - on Matt Holliday's bum.  No harm, but a slight foul.  Then later on he said this:

“But what I will say is, though, it’s tough when you see Hanley get hit like that so many times. It’s one thing to miss in[side], but when you’re missing up and in at a guy’s face like that, that’s really scary. … When you throw that hard, you need to have a better idea where the ball’s going.”
That's the kind of message your best player, a leader and the MVP candidate has to make.  Enough is enough, and nobody is better at delivering that kind of message than Clayton Kershaw.
Go here to check out a complete list of players who received votes this season.  Of note, three other Dodgers also received votes on the MVP ballot.  Adrian Gonzalez, who lead the Majors in RBI's, received 57 points and was seventh overall in balloting.  Yasiel Puig received 8 points and second baseman Dee Gordon received 1 point.  Dee Gordon is certainly a surprise here.  He seemingly came out of nowhere to win the Dodger second base job and came out of the gate like a bull.  Dee reasserted himself into the Dodger plans by making himself an important cog in the Dodger machine.  He batted .298 with a Major League leading 12 triples and 64 stolen bases.  BTW, John Maffei of U-T San Diego was the reporter who gave Gordon his 10th place vote.

Below is a video of Kershaw winning the award.

Video Link:

Here's a highlight video featuring Kershaw for winning both the Cy Young and MVP this past season.

Video Link:

Pic at the very top via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.

UPDATE:  From a Dodgers press release:
 "An individual player is part of a greater whole--a player is part of a team. So any recognition of a single player is really just a reflection of the bigger picture," said Kershaw. "I'm really humbled to receive the award for Most Valuable Player in the National League. Apart from previous recognition, this award feels significant in a different way. I never imagined getting to receive this honor. To the Baseball Writers' Association of America--thank you. To my teammates and coaches--this is a shared honor. I'm thankful to share seasons with gifted guys I respect. To the Dodgers organization and fans--playing baseball in Los Angeles is a privilege and I'm proud to represent you. I'm overwhelmed by the honors this off season has rendered. Thanks for making the 2014 baseball season one I will remember for the rest of my life."

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