Clayton Kershaw had one of the finest seasons by a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher in the last two decades, and on Thursday he was rewarded, being named the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Kershaw won the National League pitching triple crown in 2011, leading the majors with a 2.28 ERA, leading the National League with 248 strikeouts (just two whiffs behind Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers for the major league lead), and finishing tied with Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks with 21 wins. Kershaw is the third Dodger pitcher to win the triple crown, joining Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965, and 1966) and Dazzy Vance (1924).
The 23-year old Kershaw is the eighth Dodger to win the Cy Young Award, and the first since Eric Gagne captured the award in 2003. Kershaw is the first Dodgers starting pitcher to win the award since Orel Hershiser in 1988. At 21-5, Kershaw was the first Dodger to win 20 games in a season since Ramon Martinez in 1990.
Named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career, Kershaw was even better after the break. Kershaw was 13-1 with a 1.22 ERA in his final 15 starts, allowing a total of 15 earned runs. He won his final eight decisions.
Kershaw was especially adept at facing the rival San Francisco Giants, going 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA in six starts against the Dodgers' fiercest rival. Four of those starts were duels against Tim Lincecum, with all four contests won by Kershaw.
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