One day after becoming the youngest pitcher to win three Cy Young Awards, Clayton Kershaw added to his place in MLB history by winning his first career NL MVP Award. Kershaw defeated sluggers Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Kershaw becomes the first pitcher since Justin Verlander in 2011 to win an MVP Award; Verlander also won the Cy Young that year. In terms of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace becomes the first pitcher to be named MVP since Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals did so in 1968.
The last Dodger to win MVP was Kirk Gibson in 1988 but you need to go back to 1963 for the last time a Dodger pitcher, Sandy Koufax, was named MVP. Like Kershaw and Verlander, Koufax was also a Cy Young winner the year of his MVP season.
By now, Kershaw’s accomplishments in 2014 can nearly be repeated from memory but are nonetheless impressive. He led the majors in wins, winning percentage, complete games, WHIP, ERA and ERA+, among other statistics. Kershaw’s ERA title was the fourth straight — becoming the first pitcher to accomplish that feat.
That all came after Kershaw was placed on the disabled list after just his first start of the season that caused him to miss one month. As one may expect with a season in which Kershaw finished with MLB-best marks in multiple categories, the year was filled with memorable moments for the southpaw.
Kershaw threw his first career no-hitter that was a Hanley Ramirez error shy of being a perfect game, had an 11-game winning streak and a streak of 41 consecutive scoreless innings. Further evidence of his dominance on the mound can be seen in opponents slugging percentage (.289) not being much higher than his own slugging (.206).
While Kershaw put together a historically great year, he likely benefitted from Stanton’s season coming to an end after he was struck by a pitch in the face. At the time, Stanton was the driving force on a Marlins team that was in the hunt for a postseason berth.
However had Stanton not suffered from the unfortunate incident, overcoming the season Kershaw put together may still have been too much to overcome. Including the franchise’s time in Brooklyn, nine Dodgers have now combined for 11 MVP awards.