Clayton Kershaw named NL Most Valuable Player
Kershaw becomes 11th Dodger to be honored as MVP and first since Kirk Gibson in 1988
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Dodgers left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw was named the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player today in voting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Kershaw earned 18 of 30 first-place votes and nine second-place votes, garnering 355 total points.
"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."
The 26-year-old becomes just the fourth Dodger pitcher to win the Most Valuable Player award, joining Sandy Koufax (1963), Don Newcombe (1956) and Dazzy Vance (1924), and the first Dodger overall to win the award since Kirk Gibson in 1988. He is the 11th player in club history to win the award and a Dodger has now been honored as the league's MVP 13 times, the third most by a National League team behind only the Cardinals (20) and Giants (14). In addition to Vance, Newcombe, Koufax and Gibson, the club's previous winners are Steve Garvey (1974), Maury Wills (1962), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955), Jackie Robinson (1949), Dolph Camilli (1941), and Jake Daubert (1913).
Kershaw is the first National League pitcher to be honored as MVP since the Cardinals' Bob Gibson in 1968 and just the fourth NL pitcher in the Cy Young era (since 1956) to win the award. Overall since 1956, only 11 pitchers (eight starting pitchers) have been selected as MVP - Justin Verlander (2011), Dennis Eckersley (1992), Roger Clemens (1986), Willie Hernandez (1984), Rollie Fingers (1981), Vida Blue (1971), Gibson (1968), Denny McLain (1968), Koufax (1963), Newcombe (1956) - with all also winning the Cy Young Award in the same season. Of those, only Kershaw, Verlander and Koufax threw a no-hitter in their MVP season.
"Congratulations to Clayton," said Hall of Famer and 1963 NL MVP Sandy Koufax. "It's a special honor to a special pitcher and a special person."
Kershaw led the Majors with 21 wins (21-3) and a 1.77 ERA in 27 starts, as he became the first-ever pitcher to win four consecutive MLB ERA titles. Kershaw's .875 winning percentage (21-3) also topped the Majors and was the second-highest mark ever by a Dodger (min. 20 starts), behind only Preacher Roe's .880 winning percentage (22-3) in 1951. The 26-year-old was selected to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game and additionally led the Majors with a 0.86 WHIP and six complete games, while ranking among the NL leaders in strikeouts (239, 3rd), opponents' batting average (.196, 2nd), shutouts (2, T-3rd) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.71, 1st). The Dodgers posted a 23-4 record in Kershaw's 27 starts, including a 14-1 mark in his 15 starts of 8.0 or more innings.
Additionally, Kershaw was recognized for his all-around contributions by leading the NL (including pitchers and position players) in wins above replacement (WAR), according to both Baseball-Reference.com (led the Majors) and FanGraphs. He led NL pitchers with seven defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs, and controlled the opposition's running game, allowing only five stolen bases all year, earning the distinction as a Gold Glove finalist. At the plate, Kershaw batted .333 (5-for-15) with runners in scoring position and tied for fifth among NL pitchers with a .235 on-base percentage.
"Congratulations to Clayton Kershaw on winning the 2014 NL MVP Award," said Dodger Special Advisor to the Chairman and 1956 MVP Don Newcombe. "There's no one more deserving of this award and I couldn't be prouder of this young man."
Kershaw's 1.77 ERA was the lowest mark by an MLB starter since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 ERA with Boston in 2000 and the lowest ERA for a National Leaguer since Greg Maddux's 1.63 mark with Atlanta in 1995. He was the first Major Leaguer to post consecutive seasons with an ERA under 2.00 since Maddux in 1994-95 and joined Koufax (1963-64) as the only Dodgers since 1900 to accomplish the feat.
Kershaw tossed his first-career no-hitter in the Dodgers' 8-0 win on June 18 against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium, when he took a perfect game bid into the seventh inning and retired the first 18 hitters before allowing his first (and only) runner to reach base (via an error). He struck out a career-high 15 batters, the most ever for a Dodger in a no-hitter and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the most by any pitcher in Major League history that did not allow a runner to reach base via hit, walk or hit by pitch.
"Congratulations to Clayton," said Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten. "This MVP award further cements his place alongside the greatest Dodgers in franchise history."
Kershaw had several career-best streaks during the season, with an 11-game winning streak from June 2-Aug. 10 and a 41.0 consecutive scoreless-inning run from June 13-July 1, which tied for the fifth-longest in the expansion era. During the course of those streaks, Kershaw was selected at the National League's Pitcher of the Month in June (6-0, 0.82 ERA) and July (4-0, 1.07).
Kershaw, who opened the season with his fourth consecutive Opening Day start and a 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia, has gone 98-49 in 211 games (209 starts) in seven big league seasons. Since his MLB debut in 2008, he leads the Majors with a 2.48 ERA and a .209 opponents' batting average, posting the lowest career ERA among pitchers with at least 1000.0 innings pitched and 100 starts since the beginning of the Live Ball Era in 1920. Kershaw was originally selected by the Dodgers in the first round (seventh overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Highland Park (Texas) High School.
Yesterday, Kershaw was unanimously awarded his second consecutive and third career Cy Young Award, becoming just the ninth all-time pitcher to win three or more Cy Youngs and also the ninth pitcher to win the award in consecutive seasons. He was previously honored this year with his second-consecutive Roy Campanella Award as the "most inspirational Dodger," the Players Choice Awards for Marvin Miller Man of the Year, MLB Player of the Year and Outstanding National League Pitcher, a selection as both Sporting News' and Baseball America's MLB Player of the Year and the Warren Spahn Award as the game's top left-hander.
Kershaw was also the Dodgers' Roberto Clemente Award nominee once again in 2014 after winning the league-wide award in 2012, as he and his wife, Ellen, have continued to make an impact off the field through their charitable work in Los Angeles, their hometown of Dallas and abroad. The Kershaws founded their non-profit, Kershaw's Challenge, in 2011 with one goal: To challenge and encourage people to use whatever passion, purpose or talent that they have been given to make an impact on the lives of others in need. The non-profit foundation works to transform at-risk communities and the lives of children by partnering with organizations both locally and abroad to renew hope, one life at a time. This year, through Kershaw's Challenge, Kershaw chose to support local charities in Los Angeles, partnering with The Dream Center and ShareFest, as well as charities in his hometown of Dallas (Mercy Street) and in Zambia (Cure International and Arise Africa).
The Kershaws have hosted an annual charity fundraising event in Los Angeles for the past three years, with Clayton's Texas BBQ & Hoedown in 2012 and Ping Pong 4 Purpose in 2013 and 2014, benefitting Kershaw's Challenge and, earlier this month, Kershaw's Challenge hosted an inaugural Benefit Concert in Dallas to raise funds and awareness for their Zambian and Dallas outreach projects. Kershaw also continues to raise money through his Strike Out to Serve initiative, where he makes a donation for each of his strikeouts and challenges others to do so as well. In addition to financial support, Kershaw has made numerous visits to each organization, where he's assisted with community outreach programs, run baseball clinics/camps and donated/distributed essential daily supplies like food and clothing.
Previous winners (*-Unanimous)
2013 Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; 2012 Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants; 2011 Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; 2010 Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds; 2009 *Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals; 2008 Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals; 2007 Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies; 2006 Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies; 2005 Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals; 2004 Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants; 2003 Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants; 2002 *Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants; 2001 Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants; 2000 Jeff Kent, San Francisco Giants; 1999 Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves; 1998 Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs; 1997 Larry Walker, Colorado Rockies; 1996 *Ken Caminiti, San Diego Padres; 1995 Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds; 1994 *Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros; 1993 Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants; 1992 Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates; 1991 Terry Pendleton, Atlanta Braves; 1990 Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates; 1989 Kevin Mitchell, San Francisco Giants; 1988 Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles Dodgers; 1987 Andre Dawson, Chicago Cubs; 1986 Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies; 1985 Willie McGee, St. Louis Cardinals; 1984 Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs; 1983 Dale Murphy, Atlanta Braves; 1982 Dale Murphy, Atlanta Braves; 1981 Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies; 1980 *Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies; 1979 (Tie) Keith Hernandez, St. Louis Cardinals, and Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates; 1978 Dave Parker, Pittsburgh Pirates; 1977 George Foster, Cincinnati Reds; 1976 Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds; 1975 Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds; 1974 Steve Garvey, Los Angeles Dodgers; 1973 Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds; 1972 Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds; 1971 Joe Torre, St. Louis Cardinals; 1970 Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds; 1969 Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants; 1968 Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals; 1967 *Orlando Cepeda, St. Louis Cardinals; 1966 Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates; 1965 Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants; 1964 Ken Boyer, St. Louis Cardinals; 1963 Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers; 1962 Maury Wills, Los Angeles Dodgers; 1961 Frank Robinson, Cincinnati Reds; 1960 Dick Groat, Pittsburgh Pirates; 1959 Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs; 1958 Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs; 1957 Henry Aaron, Milwaukee Braves; 1956 Don Newcombe, Brooklyn Dodgers; 1955 Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers; 1954 Willie Mays, New York Giants; 1953 Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers; 1952 Hank Sauer, Chicago Cubs; 1951 Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers; 1950 Jim Konstanty, Philadelphia Phillies; 1949 Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers; 1948 Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals; 1947 Bob Elliott, Boston Braves; 1946 Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals; 1945 Phil Cavarretta, Chicago Cubs; 1944 Marty Marion, St. Louis Cardinals; 1943 Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals; 1942 Mort Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals; 1941 Dolph Camilli, Brooklyn Dodgers; 1940 Frank McCormick, Cincinnati Reds; 1939 Bucky Walters, Cincinnati Reds; 1938 Ernie Lombardi, Cincinnati Reds; 1937 Joe Medwick, St. Louis Cardinals; 1936 Carl Hubbell, New York Giants; 1935 Gabby Hartnett, Chicago Cubs; 1934 Dizzy Dean, St. Louis Cardinals; 1933 Carl Hubbell, New York Giants;1932 Chuck Klein, Philadelphia Phillies; 1931 Frankie Frisch, St. Louis Cardinals.