The battle for the National League Cy Young award went back and forth in the second half, with the dominant Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies losing ground to Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the season went on. It would end up being a photo finish, with former top contender Jair Jurrjens falling completely out of the picture after battling injuries and ineffectiveness in the second half. Who would take the crown?
Midseason winner: Roy Halladay
1) Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (40 points, five first place votes)
2) Roy Halladay, Phillies (40 points, four first place votes)
3) Cliff Lee, Phillies (28 points)
4) Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks (12 points)
5) Cole Hamels, Phillies (6 points)
6) Madison Bumganer, Giants (6 points)
7) Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (1 point)
8) Matt Cain, Giants (1 point)
9) Chris Carpenter, Cardinals (1 point)
Wow. It ends in a tie, with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers getting the nod due to having more first place votes. Despite an inferior fWAR in comparison to Roy Halladay of the Phillies (8.2 for Halladay, 6.8 for Kershaw), Kershaw won the all important “pitching triple crown”, like Justin Verlander in the AL. Kershaw’s ERA was a hair better than Halladay’s, he won two more games, and he struck out 28 more hitters than Halladay. Where Doc set himself apart was a lower amount of walks (19 less to be precise) and five fewer home runs allowed. Halladay also threw a whopping 1/3 of an inning more than Kershaw. The battle between the two is really neck and neck, and you can’t go wrong with either player. Maybe one of our staff members wakes up on the other side of the bed tomorrow, and votes for Halladay over Kershaw. Either choice is a proper one.
Cliff Lee rejoined the Phillies after being dealt away an offseason ago by Ruben Amaro, and he didn’t disappoint in his return to the City of Brotherly Love. His ERA was third in the league, behind the two men ahead of him. He pitched in just as many innings as the pair, with just one less inning pitched on his resume than Halladay. His walk and strikeout rates fell between both pitchers. Pretty much, Lee did exactly what Amaro paid him to do. He performed like a Cy Young candidate, and could win the award in most other years. Lee’s teammate, Cole Hamels, was also excellent as the third member of Philly’s pitching trifecta. His 216 innings was second highest in his career, and his 194 strikeouts were third best. His 2.79 ERA was far and away a career best, and working with Lee and Halladay propelled him to a career low walk rate.
Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks came out of nowhere to be a solid arm for the Diamondbacks in the NL West this season. Kennedy’s 21 wins were tied for the league lead with Kershaw, and he backed that up with solid outlying numbers: 198 strikeouts in 222 innings. No team is going to complain about that from a guy you didn’t know what you were getting out of at the beginning of the year. Kennedy’s NL West rival, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, was another guy who the team didn’t know what to expect out of. But Bumgarner was the best pitcher on a loaded Giants staff, even outperforming two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Bumgarner struck out 191 in 204 2/3 innings while walking just 46, and looked like the top prospect that he was before he mysteriously lost his velocity.
As for the rest, Yovani Gallardo paced a good Brewers staff while striking out a batter per inning. Matt Cain was cursed with at terrible win/loss record again but kept his ERA under 3.00 (2.88 to be exact). And then, there’s Chris Carpenter, who helped lead the Cardinals to a World Championship with a league leading 237 1/3 innings pitched.