Dodgers lefty earns second award; Tigers righty wins first with MLB-high 21 wins
From the left, a young superstar who's making history. From the right, a winning machine in 2013 who reached his true potential.
Left-hander Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is the National League Cy Young Award winner for the second time in three years and right-hander Max Scherzer of the Tigers won his first Cy Young as the American League honoree in Baseball Writers' Association of America voting results announced Wednesday.
Both products of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft's first round won with dominance similar to what they delivered in the regular season, Kershaw taking the NL just one vote short of a unanimous outcome and Scherzer taking 28 of the possible 30 first-place votes in the AL.
Kershaw, who won in 2011 and was runner-up in 2012, claimed the NL honor with a Majors-leading 1.83 ERA, his third consecutive NL ERA title. Scherzer won his first 13 decisions and wound up with a Majors-high 21 wins that contributed to his AL honor.
At age 25, Kershaw's two Cy Youngs also young rank right with the Giants' Tim Lincecum (2008, '09), who was a few months younger when he won his second NL award, and Roger Clemens (1986-87), who was another two months younger when he won his second in the AL.
Kershaw, selected seventh overall by the Dodgers in 2006, made his Major League debut in 2008 at age 20, and he has been upwardly mobile ever since. He collected an NL-high 232 strikeouts in helping push the Dodgers back to the postseason, and he posted the first NL ERA three-peat since Greg Maddux (1993-95).
Now he has the NL Cy Young Award -- again.
"Whether you expect to win or you don't, just to hear your name called -- it does something to you," Kershaw said. "I'm not big on individual stats or awards or anything like that, because ultimately I think we play this game to win a World Series. No ifs, ands or buts after that. That's the goal."
Kershaw ran away with the election, earning 207 total points in the 7-4-3-2-1 voting format, his 29 first-place votes going with one second-place vote. Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright, who led the league in wins (19) and innings pitched (241 2/3), finished second with the one other first-place vote and 86 total votes, followed by the Marlins' Jose Fernandez, announced as the 2013 Rookie of the Year earlier this week. Kershaw also was named the NL's Outstanding Pitcher in the Players Choice Awards announced last week.
Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher to win multiple Cy Youngs since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who won three and posted the only ERA (1.73) lower for a Major League left-hander than Kershaw's 2013 mark.
"I'm not trying to live up to his expectations, because honestly they're just so lofty, I don't know if anybody can," Kershaw said.
In the AL, Scherzer's 13 straight victories to start the season got him on the Cy Young map early en route to a 21-3 record. But the 29-year-old former first-round pick did more than win, finishing among the AL leaders with a 2.90 ERA on a Tigers team that won the AL Central. Like Kershaw, he was named his league's Outstanding Pitcher by his peers in Players Choice voting.
The BBWAA was just as certain about Scherzer, awarding him 203 voting points, based on 28 for first, one second and one third. The Rangers' Yu Darvish was second -- the highest finish ever in Cy Young voting for a Japanese-born player -- with 19 second-place votes and 93 total points, followed by the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma with 73 points. The Tigers' Anibal Sanchez and Chris Sale of the White Sox earned the other first-place votes.
Though wins often are a contentious matter in discussions about the value of a pitcher considered for the Cy Young, the W's were significant to the 2013 AL winner, at least.
"Once I won 20 games, I really did appreciate that moment," Scherzer said on a conference call with reporters. "That's such a milestone that few pitchers ever get to. The ones that have gotten there are legends in the game. Now that the season's over, you have a chance to reflect on what you were able to actually do, because during the season you're focused so much on winning that if you focus on yourself, it really takes away from what's really important."
Scherzer is the fourth Tigers pitcher to win the Cy Young, joining Justin Verlander (2011), Guillermo Hernandez (1984) and Denny McLain (1968-69). The 11th overall pick by the D-backs in 2006 traded to Detroit prior to the 2010 season, Scherzer made his first All-Star appearance this year and had career lows in ERA and WHIP (0.97) with career highs in strikeouts (240) and innings pitched (214 1/3).
"I've been working so hard for all these years to keep getting better and better, every single year try and do something better than the next," Scherzer said on the MLB Network broadcast.
Darvish and Iwakuma will have to wait another year to become the first Cy Young winner from Japan, but they put up impressive 2013 seasons. The Rangers' Darvish led the Majors with 277 strikeouts -- the most in the AL since Pedro Martinez had 313 in 1999 -- and the Mariners' Iwakuma was third in the AL with a 2.66 ERA.
The Cy Young Awards mark the third of the four major awards to be announced this week, followed by Most Valuable Player Awards on Thursday, to be announced on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.