Another day, another Clayton Kershaw accolade, though of course this one is far more impressive than yesterday’s Cy Young victory.
Kershaw is your 2014 NL MVP, the first Dodger to win the award since Kirk Gibson in 1988, and just the second in the 40 seasons since Steve Garvey took it home in 1974. (Somehow. Just check out Mike Schmidt & Joe Morgan from that year. Geez.) That in itself is impressive, but of course what really makes this special is that — Tommy Lasorda be damned here — Kershaw wins the MVP as a pitcher, making him just the 10th pitcher to do so, and the first in the National League since Bob Gibson pulled it off in 1968. He’s the third Dodger, following Sandy Koufax in 1963 and Don Newcombe in 1956.
As expected, the vote was extremely close, and as expected, Andrew McCutchen & Giancarlo Stanton both received plenty of support. Defending MVP McCutchen actually improved his offensive output in every way from last year, though the defensive metrics didn’t seem to like him as much, and Stanton bounced back from a down (for him) 2013 to put up the best year of his career. All three spent time on the disabled list, so I don’t want to hear the “but Kershaw missed time!” argument, though it’s at least plausible that the fact that when votes were due at the end of the season, Kershaw’s injury was months in the past while McCutchen and Stanton’s were very recent played a role for some voters.
For me, it came down to Kershaw and McCutchen, because as great as Stanton is, McCutchen actually outperformed him on offense this year and added more value on the bases while playing a more important position. From there, it comes down to whether you support a pitcher having one of the greatest seasons in history or a very good hitter having a very good year. It’s at this point that I’m fully aware that I stand apart from much of the electorate by A) not having a problem if a pitcher wins and B) not caring if the player is on a playoff team, although thanks to the wild card, that last part isn’t an issue between these two. Had McCutchen won, I couldn’t have found much room to argue about it, because he’s wonderful, easily one of my favorite non-Dodgers.
We already knew we were watching something amazing this year. None of us needed Kershaw to win an award to know that. But now it’s official. Now it’s forever. He’s still not even 27. We may not know how lucky we are.