Arms Race: Kershaw vs. Halladay
The 2011 MLB season has several wild races going on. The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves are fighting for the NL Wild Card spot while the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are fighting for the AL Wild Card spot. In the NL, there is also another race going on: the race for the Cy Young Award.
Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is having the best season of his career and has qualifications worthy of a Cy Young vote.
Kershaw leads the NL in wins (21), ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248). Kershaw is also tied with Cole Hamels for the best WHIP (0.98) in the NL.
Kershaw is also the NL leader in AVG against (.207) and is followed by Hamels (.212 AVG).
In my eyes, Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies is the best pitcher in baseball and has been for years. Halladay is a warrior who pitches with the mindset of pitching all nine innings every time he steps on the mound. Halladay’s pinpoint control and robot-like consistency make him the most valuable pitcher and an ace in the truest sense of the word.
Despite Halladay’s incredible consistency and dominance, Kershaw’s dominance outshines that of Halladay’s this season in the overall body of work. In his 19 wins, Halladay had a 1.60 ERA; Kershaw had a 0.69 ERA in his 21 wins. Halladay was more impressive in his losses (4.12 ERA) and his no-decisions (3.07 ERA) than Kershaw was in his losses (6.99 ERA) and no-decisions (4.47 ERA); however, Kershaw’s overall body of work amounted to him leading the NL in wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts and AVG against.
Kershaw was also dominant against both left-handed and right-handed hitters, as lefties hit .178 and righties hit .213 against him; lefties hit .273 and righties hit .206 against Halladay.
Those who argue that Halladay is more worthy of the Cy Young vote may point out that Halladay had a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park; Halladay did even better on the road, posting a 2.23 ERA in 17 road starts. People may also point out that Kershaw had many starts against the offensively challenged San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres. If you eliminate games against the Padres and Giants, then here is how Kershaw and Halladay stack up against the rest of the NL.
Halladay vs. rest of NL
30 GS (17-6)
Kershaw vs. rest of NL
24 GS (13-5)
As you can see from the above statistics, Halladay – despite having the better ERA – and Kershaw both had very similar numbers against the rest of the NL. Halladay’s dominance at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park and the above numbers against the rest of the NL indeed help his case for repeating as the Cy Young Award champion this season; however, as I stated earlier, Kershaw’s overall body of work cannot be ignored. Kershaw is the NL leader in virtually every pitching category and is therefore worthy of the vote.
No disrespect intended to Cliff Lee or Hamels, but the Cy Young Award voting should be a two-man race between Halladay and Kershaw. There are reasons to support either pitcher; however, it should be extremely difficult to overlook Kershaw’s case. I believe Kershaw should win, and he would get my vote.