Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NL Cy Young race: Clayton Kershaw v. Roy Halladay

As we enter the season's final two months, there isn't much to be excited about on the Dodgers' front. They weren't able to trade Hiroki Kuroda, foolishly traded away Trayvon Robinson for spare parts and Rubby De La Rosa could be headed for Tommy John Surgery.

Matt Kemp's MVP-caliber season notwithstanding, there isn't much reason left to pay attention to the boys in Blue.

Well, except potential National League Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw.

Note: The Cy Young is for the league's best pitcher, not most valuable. The Dodgers' record shouldn't play into voting at all.

Kershaw hurled a complete game last night in San Diego, defeating the Padres 6-2. It was his fourth complete game of the season.

Kershaw is having a brilliant season. Here are his MLB ranks in some of the major pitching categories:

ERA: 2.68 (12th)
WHIP: 1.03 (8th)
BAA: .212 (8th)
FIP: 2.51 (3rd)
xFIP: 2.71 (3rd)
Baseball-Reference WAR: 4.3 (7th)
FanGraphs WAR: 4.7 (6th)
Strikeouts: 177 (2nd)
K/9: 9.8 (2nd)
K/BB: 4.2 (9th)
H/9: 6.9 (8th)

His FIP and xFIP have improved dramatically since last season. He had a 3.12 FIP and 3.64 xFIP last season. He's now in the upper-echelon of pitchers with his marks this season.

Before we go and give him the award, he does have some stiff competition from last year's winner, Roy Halladay.

Halladay bests Kershaw in ERA (2.44), WHIP (1.01), Baseball-Reference WAR (5.2), FanGrpahs WAR (5.6), FIP (2.23), xFIP (2.56) and K/BB (8.0) -- pretty much the most important categories.

Halladay is a great pitcher. Hell, he's in the discussion for NL MVP, which is a big statement in and of itself. He's probably headed to the Hall of Fame when his career ends.

Kershaw is 23 and will have plenty of chances at the Cy Young. However, he doesn't seem to be giving up his chase this season. He is pitching the best baseball of his career and it wouldn't be shocking if he got even better in the next three-to-five years.

There are other pitchers in the NL having great seasons, including Halladay's teammates Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. However, Halladay and Kershaw are the NL's two best pitchers. As of right now, the race is between them.

As of now, it's hard not to vote for Halladay. If Kershaw keeps it up, though, he should give Doc a run for his money come the off-season.

Speaking of money and off-season, here's hoping the Dodgers can get Kershaw locked up long-term this winter. It all depends how the ownership situation shakes out.

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