We had no idea just a few short years ago, that we would be witnessing history of mega proportions unfolding right before our very eyes. The date was May 25, 2008, the Major League debut of Clayton Kershaw. A tall, lanky kid from Texas was making his first start. This sort of thing happens in Baseball all the time. This was no ordinary debut though. Kershaw would pitch well, although he got a no-decision allowing only 2 runs through 6 innings of work, striking out 7 Cardinals, en route to a Dodger victory.
As Stacie and I watched on television, we both knew right away. We were seeing the “One”. Not just a great pitcher or a young prospect. The One. A Sandy Koufax, Fernando, Hershiser. Not just an Ace, but a pitcher so dominant, that he only comes along once every generation or so, to lead the Dodgers back to glory. Today Clayton Kershaw took his rightful place towards his Blue destiny, by winning his first Cy Young award.
Kershaw was named the NL Cy Young award winner for his magnificent dominance of all opponents in 2011. Kershaw won the pitching triple crown by leading in all three categories of wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Kershaw tied with Arizona’s Ian Kennedy with 21 wins, and led the league with a 2.28 ERA. He also led the league in strikeouts with 248. He also finished tied for first in WHIP, first in BAA, and for good measure in the top 5 in innings pitched and complete games. Kershaw was 13-1 at Dodger Stadium, was selected to his first all-star game, won his first gold glove, and won the Warren Spahn award for the best left-handed pitcher in Baseball.
Kershaw becomes the 8th pitcher in Dodgers history to win the Cy Young award and the seventh LA Dodger pitcher to take
home the hardware. Ian Kennedy, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee all received first place votes, but they stood little chance to beat Kershaw.
Kershaw received first place votes on 27 of the 32 ballots. He was second on three ballots, and third on two, for 207 votes total. Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay was the runner-up, finishing with 133 votes. He received four first place votes. Arizona righty Ian Kennedy also received a first place vote. Cliff Lee finished third in the voting. Kershaw becomes the youngest pitcher to win the Cy Young since Doc Gooden won for the Mets when he was 20 years old in 1985. The Cy Young award gives 7 points for first place votes, four for second, three for third, two for fourth, and one for fifth. Cole Hamels finished fifth.
Another added nugget of wonderfulness to Kershaw’s season was his complete and utter dominance over the Giants and rival pitcher Tim Lincecum. Kershaw was 5-0 against the Giants, and 4-0 against Lincecum head-to-head. Obviously Kershaw proved without a shadow of a doubt that he is a far superior pitcher to Lincecum, and his total and utter domination over the Giants and all other opponents. We could only laugh as Lincecum struggled and failed to beat Kershaw in every match up. Oh sure he pitched well, but it was very clear that he was nowhere near the level of sheer domination of Clayton Kershaw.
|Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers||27||3||2||207|
|Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies||4||21||7||133|
|Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies||5||17||9||1||90|
|Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks||1||3||6||18||3||76|
|Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies||2||13||17|
|Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants||1||5||7|
|Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers||1||3||5|
|Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants||1||1||3|
|John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers||2||2|
|Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves||2||2|
|Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants||1||1|
|Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants||1||1|
Remember Kershaw does everything well. He was among the league leaders in pickoffs, and sacrifice bunts. Kershaw was even decent with the bat, often competing with Billingsley to see who could out hit the other.
Kershaw became the first Dodger starter to win 20 games since Ramon Martinez in 1990. At 23 years old, Kershaw is only getting better. He might not lose at all next season.
During the nightmarish first half of 2011, Kershaw’s excellence was a blessing and a refreshing and much needed break from the losing. Throughout the year we drank in Kershaw’s greatness. He should also be in line for one heck of a pay raise!
Take notice Dodger fans, we are witnessing history. We could be seeing the most dominant Dodger pitcher of our lifetimes. My Uncle still tells me the stories of watching Sandy Koufax pitch. I could be telling my kids that I saw the domination of Clayton Kershaw, and his first of many Cy Young awards. Is Clayton Kershaw the next Sandy Koufax? Yes he is….Congratulations Clayton! Go Blue!