Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League Most Valuable Player award in nearly a half-century, coasting to an easy victory Thursday.
Kershaw, who also took home the NL Cy Young award for the third time Wednesday, is the first NL pitcher to sweep both awards since Bob Gibson in 1968.
“When you see that ‘most valuable’ in front of something, to have people think you really mean that much to your team, it really is a huge honor for me,” Kershaw told MLB Network immediately after the announcement. “It’s one of the coolest things ever.”
The Dodgers ace beat out Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen for the honor announced Thursday. Kershaw got 18 of 30 first-place votes and 355 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Stanton got eight first-place ballots and 298 points. McCutchen got four first and 271 points.
Gibson in 1968 was the previous pitcher to be the NL MVP. Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander won the AL MVP in 2011.
With Kershaw on the mound, Los Angeles went 21-4. They were only three games over .500 when anyone else pitched.
Kershaw won the major league season opener in Australia on March 22, then missed more than a month when a strained upper back put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Kershaw came back to win his second straight NL Cy Young and third in four years.
Featuring sharp breaking balls, Kershaw was the first pitcher to top the majors in ERA for four straight years. He led the majors in wins and ERA and had 239 strikeouts in just 198 1/3 innings.
“I feel like you always want to live up to, you know, your own expectations, first and foremost,” Kershaw said. “But you feel like when the team puts such a big investment in you, you want to come through for them. Obviously, the regular season’s one thing and I need to try to do it in the postseason now, too.”
Said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, before results were announced: “Sometimes, you’ve got to look through another window. And when you look through that window at this guy, you say, ‘Wow.’ … I’m someone who typically believes the Cy Young is the pitchers’ MVP award, in most years. So to have a pitcher win the MVP, it takes an exception to the standards pitchers are typically measured by. Well, if you look at the season this guy’s had, it’s exceptional.”
Kershaw also threw his first career no-hitter on June 18, when he had 15 strikeouts and did not walk a batter against the Colorado Rockies.
The Dodgers finished 94-68 and claimed their second straight NL West title.
Dodgers players have won 11 MVPs, led by Roy Campanella in 1951, ’53 and ’56. Also winning were Dolph Camilli (1941), Jackie Robinson (1949), Don Newcombe (1956), Maury Wills (1962), Koufax (1963), Steve Garvey (1974) and Kirk Gibson (1988).
SOURCE: The Associated Press