Major League Baseball’s final awards for the 2011 season are now complete, with the Cy Young and MVP awards announced after voting by the Baseball Writer’s Association for the best AL and NL players.
Cy Young Winners
Los Angeles Dodger’s pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young award easily, taking 27 of the 32 votes. And his performance this year warranted it. He won the NL pitching triple crown with a 21-5 record (tied for first), 2.28 ERA, and 248 strikeouts. He’s the first Dodger to win the award since Orel Hershiser took it in 1988. He finished strong in the second half with a 12-1 record and 1.31 ERA, not losing after August 7th. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment to help him win the award was defeating Tim Lincecum each of the four times he faced him, giving up only 1 earned run in those games.
On the American League side, Justin Verlander put up equally impressive results to take home the AL Cy Young award. He also took the pitching triple crown, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, not to mention throwing a no-hitter May 7th against Toronto. He won unanimously, taking all 28 first-place votes, with Jered Weaver of the Angels getting 17 second-place votes as the next-closest contender. He’s the only AL Rookie of the Year to also win a Cy Young. Of course, Verlander was looking for one more post-season trophy this year.
MVPs, Verlander Puts Pitchers in the Conversation
Justin Verlander was named the AL MVP this week, winning 13 of 28 first-place votes for 280 points, and is the first pitcher to take the award since Roger Clemens won it in 1986. The win makes a statement for the resurgence of pitching in the current era, with offensive numbers dwindling possibly due to stricter drug regulations. Besides his impressive stats and clubhouse leadership, the no-hitter weighed with many voters, though some still refused to give the MVP award to a non-position player, since starting pitchers only play in 20% of the teams’ games. Verlander’s primary competition was Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury in second place with 242 points, and Yankees’ outfielder Curtis Granderson in third with 231 points.
Braun Shows He’s Got What It Takes
In the NL, the MVP went to Milwaukee Brewer left fielder Ryan Braun with 20 of 32 first-place votes. Braun led the NL with a .597 slugging percentage and almost took the batting title, having had a shot to surpass Jose Reyes in his last game of the season but finishing with a .332 average. Braun had 33 homers, 111 RBIs, 109 runs scored, and 33 stolen bases, helping the Brewers get into the playoffs. He’s the first Brewer to win the award since Robin Yount in 1989. And luckily for Milwaukee, Braun just signed a five-year $105 million contract that will keep him with the team through 2020. Braun had to fend off Los Angeles Dodger’s center fielder Matt Kemp, who nearly took the Triple Crown, receiving 10 first-place votes.