L.A. Dodgers: 4 Reasons They Should Sweep NL MVP, Cy Young Awards
On Aug. 27, Kemp hit his third walk-off home run of the year. Two days later, Kershaw pitched a six-hitter against the San Diego Padres that wasn’t dominating yet showed him at his grittiest, as he forced outs without his best stuff.
With no pennant race to look forward to, all Dodger fans can do is try to champion their best players to be rewarded for their efforts. I’ve tried to lay out convincing arguments for the Bison and Young Prince winning the MVP and Cy Young respectively, but here are more reasons to consider.
Matt Kemp's a Legit Triple Crown Threat
Not only is Kemp co-leading in home runs, second in runs batted in and fourth in batting average, he’s also leading in wins above replacement by almost a full game. He’s also a member of the 30 homers/30 stolen bases club.
Here’s some precedent from Triple Crown threats who fell short of the crown yet still won the MVP award:
* Frank Thomas (1994): second in home runs, third in RBI and batting average.
* Jeff Bagwell (1994): second in batting average and home runs, first in RBI.
* Larry Walker (1997): second in batting average, first in home runs, third in RBI (also a member of the 30/30 club).
* Albert Pujols (2009): first in home runs, third in batting average and RBI.
Kemp is a long shot to win the batting title, needing to make up more than 10 points over the final month. But winning the home run and RBI title is well within reach, and should he win both while staying in the top five for batting average, he deserves to win the MVP.
Side note: Should Kemp win, he’d only be the sixth member of the 30/30 club to do so (Dale Murphy in 1983, Barry Bonds in 1990 and 1992, Larry Walker in 1997 and Jimmy Rollins in 2007).
Clayton Kershaw's Triple Crown Chase/Second-Half Dominance
While all the Triple Crown talk has surrounded Kemp, Kershaw is in the running for the pitching Triple Crown. He’s tied for first in wins, first outright in strikeouts and second in earned run average.
It should be pointed out that the current ERA leader—Cincinnati Reds hurler Johnny Cueto—has pitched in nearly 60 innings less than Kershaw.
Since the All-Star break, Kershaw has gone 8-1, including an NL-leading two complete games, with a major-league-leading 1.32 ERA and hitters batting .204 against him. Only Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks has the same number of wins.
The Young Prince has an outside shot at 20 wins, and should he win and remain in the hunt for the Triple Crown, I can’t see any reason why he can’t win.
Thriving Despite Mediocrity
Kemp and Kershaw have put up their numbers despite being surrounded by little help. The Dodgers rank 13th (out of 16 teams) in the NL in runs scored.
Kemp has carried the Dodgers offense while Andre Ethier has struggled to replicate his power numbers of the last two seasons. The next Dodger in home runs behind Kemp? Rod Barajas with 14 to go along with his .239 average. If not for the addition of Juan Rivera, Kemp’s numbers might be even lower.
In the Dodgers rotation, Kershaw is surrounded by Hiroki Kuroda, whose 10-14 record overshadows his sub-3.00 ERA, Chad Billingsley (10-10, 4.08 ERA) and Ted Lilly (8-13, 4.43 ERA). There’s a reason why fans have tuned in every fifth game because Kershaw has been a guaranteed win, while his mates have been unpredictable.
Both players rank in the top 10 for wins above replacement. If you add Kershaw’s win total with Kemp’s four walk-off hits, they add up to nearly one-third of the Dodgers win total.
Consolation to a Poor Season
The Dodgers' season started on a terrible note with the terrible beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow on Opening Day. It’s gotten worse with owner Frank McCourt’s divorce proceedings and MLB’s takeover of the financial operations of the franchise.
Nothing is worse than watching Dodger games this past month and seeing empty seats litter the stadium. It’s a shame that few fans celebrate moments like Kemp’s recent walk-off home run, James Loney’s power surge or Kershaw’s brilliance.
Having Kemp and Kershaw win the MVP and Cy Young would add a silver lining to one of the most disappointing Dodger seasons in 20 years.
The Final Word
The last time a team swept the Cy Young and MVP awards was 2006, when Johan Santana and Justin Morneau won for the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers did it in 1988 when Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser led them to the World Series.
Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are threatening to win the NL hitting and pitching Triple Crowns. Rarely has a team had two players vying for both, and in a season where there hasn’t been much to cheer in Dodgertown, they’ve done more than enough to distinguish themselves among their peers.
Voters shouldn’t look at the Dodgers’ record in judging how well both have played this year. Just look at the numbers and the impact Kemp and Kershaw have had on the team, and there’s no reason not to reward them both in spite of what’s around them.