Players Choice Awards finalists excelled in year of great pitching
The Players Choice Awards finalists for Outstanding Pitcher -- Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel and David Price in the American League and Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the National League -- were the game's most dominant hurlers in a 2015 season that will be remembered for great pitching.
The two Outstanding Pitcher awards will be announced during the hour-long 2015 Players Choice Awards show on MLB Network on Monday (Nov. 9) at 8 p.m. ET. The program will be presented by MLB The Show™ and sponsored by Majestic Athletic.
Two of the AL pitchers played key roles in getting their clubs to the postseason, while the third performed consistently well for a team that struggled mightily.
In his third season, Gray, a 25-year-old Tennessean who stands just 5-foot-11, was 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA, three complete games and two shutouts in 31 starts for the last-place Athletics. He was third in the league with a 5.8 WAR and made his first All-Star team.
Keuchel, a 27-year-old Oklahoman who pitched collegiately for Arkansas, was perhaps the main reason the Astros reached the postseason. The left-hander led the AL with 20 wins, two shutouts, a 1.017 WHIP and a 7.2 WAR. His 2.48 ERA was second in the league.
Price, who won the AL Outstanding Pitcher award in 2012, went 18-5 with an AL-best 2.45 ERA overall this season. After being traded to the Blue Jays, the left-hander went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA, 1.009 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 11 starts to help them surge to the top of the AL East.
The NL finalists were comprised of perhaps the Dodgers' best lefty-righty combination since Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and a 29-year-old right-hander who emerged in his second year with the Cubs.
Arrieta, 29, got better as his second full season with the Cubs progressed and emerged as one of the top pitchers in baseball, finishing with an MLB-high 22 wins, a 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings. In his final 20 starts, he was 16-1 with an 0.86 ERA. He pitched four complete games, three shutouts ,and his 0.75 ERA after the All-Star break was the best in baseball history.
Still only 27, Kershaw built on what has already been an outstanding career, going 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA over an NL-high 232 2/3 innings in his eighth season with the Dodgers. The five-time All-Star also led the Majors with 301 strikeouts, the most since 2002.
In his 12th season and third with the Dodgers, Greinke, 32, was better than ever, going 19-3 with 200 strikeouts in 222 2/3 innings while leading the Majors with a 1.66 ERA, a 9.3 WAR, 0.84 WHIP and a .231 on-base percentage against.
The Players Choice Awards, in which the players recognize each other's excellence on and off the field, have been presented by the Major League Baseball Players Association since 1992, with the Players Trust providing more than $4 million in charitable grants to causes selected by the winning players.
Each of the Outstanding Pitcher winners will receive a $20,000 grant from the Trust that will go to a charity or charities they select.
The winners and finalists for each award were selected by players on Sept. 16 in league-wide balloting conducted under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.