In late August, Beyond The Box Score was home to a lively debate comparing the seasons of Mets ace Matt Harvey and Dodgers front-man Clayton Kershaw. In fact, I wrote in favor of Harvey's Cy Young case and stand behind everything I said at the time. Unfortunately for me, and really everyone who likes watching baseball, the Mets announced Harvey's season ending injury two hours after that post went live into the world. From there, it was really just about Kershaw maintaining his pace.
The peripherals favor Harvey and Adam Wainwright threw more innings, but Kershaw's mix of 236 innings and a 1.83 ERA, 2.39 FIP, and 2.88 xFIP are enough to set him apart. There's really no question that Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball at this point given his performance over the last three seasons and the slight decline of Justin Verlander.
His 2013 campaign was superb, but probably not nearly as impressive relative to his competitors as this balloting suggests. The BBWAA will likely hand him the award unanimously tomorrow as we have here, but the distance between Kershaw and his rivals is not nearly as large as the voting indicates. Kershaw, Wainwright, and Harvey were separated by less than half a win according to FanGraphs.
Kershaw pitched in front of a better defense than either of the others and limited runs against generally in line with that advantage. Clayton Kershaw earned this award, but it's worth acknowledging that Harvey and Wainwright weren't that far back. In all honesty, I don't think Kershaw was much better this year than he was in 2011 or 2012. He was an amazing pitcher who had better fielders behind him than he had previously. If you're a voter who cares mostly about results, Kershaw wins in a runaway. If you're someone who votes based on only what a pitcher can control, Kershaw wins a tighter race.
If it feels like this post is dampening the Kershaw love too heavily, just consider that there's really nothing original left to say about Clayton Kershaw. He's the consensus best pitcher in baseball, builds orphanages in Africa, and will soon have a net worth that rivals a handful countries.
Congratulations Clayton, here's another award.
And here's our full balloting:
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Neil Weinberg is a writer and editor at Beyond The Box Score, contributor to Gammons Daily, and can also be found writing enthusiastically about the Detroit Tigers at New English D. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter at @NeilWeinberg44.