Although the Los Angeles Dodgers finished 2011 third in the National League West with an 82-79 record, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw were spectacular and will likely bring Los Angeles their league's Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards.
If so, the two Dodger stars will be immortalized and join a list of Dodger greats.
Since the Cy Young award was created in 1956, the Dodgers organization has had one player or players win both the Cy Young and MVP award in the same season an incredible four times.
In 1956, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe came out of nowhere to win the first-ever Cy Young award. At the time, the award was only available for one pitcher in the entirety of Major League Baseball. Newcombe was also awarded the National League MVP, while Yankees' great Mickey Mantle won the American League award.
Newcombe certainly deserved both awards. That season Newcombe went 27-7 in 36 starts. His ERA was a mere 3.06 and he struck out 139 hitters. He helped lead the Dodgers to 93 wins and the World Series, where they lost in seven games to Mantle's Yankees.
Six years later, the Dodgers did it again. This time the Dodgers were in Los Angeles, and two different players won the awards during a 102-63 season.
Shortstop Maury Willis stole the the 1962 National League MVP award after stealing 104 bases, batting .299 and playing in all 165 games.
The Cy Young award was given to right-hander Don Drysdale. The 26-year-old went a stellar 25-9 in 41 starts and held an ERA of 2.83. His 232 strikeouts also contributed.
The next season, legend Sandy Koufax had what was, at the time, his best season ever. While helping Los Angeles to a 99-63 record and a sweep of the hated Yankees in the 1963 World Series, Koufax was clearly basbeall's best pitcher. He went 25-5 with an ERA of just 1.88. Koufax also struck out 306 batters in 311 innings.
In 1974, Dodgers brought the awards home again, although they lost the World Series in five games to the Oakland Athletics. Corner infielder Steve Garvey won the MVP award after posting a .312 average, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 111 runs.
Reliever Mike Marshall finished third in MVP voting but won the Cy Young. He recorded 21 saves and held a record of 15-12 after finishing 83 games.
The last time the Dodgers accomplished this feat was 1988.
Fourteen seasons after Los Angeles fell to Oakland, they returned to take the World Series from the A's in five games. We all know what Kirk Gibson did in Game 1 of the Series, but the current Arizona manager also won the NL MVP award that year. Gibson hit .290 with 25 homers and just 76 RBI.
The Cy Young award was won by Orel "Bulldog" Hershiser. Orel was dominant as he went 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA. His 15 complete games helped him take home the award.
Enter Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodger duo was the bright spot of a disappointing season in Los Angeles, which was marred by bad press and the Brian Stow incident. Kemp and Kershaw are heavy favorites to win their respective awards.
Matt Kemp's stellar year could have been more. Hard to believe, but true. With his .324 average, Kemp finished 13 batting points away from the rare Triple Crown. Not only did the center fielder hit 39 homers and drive in 126 RBI, but he also finished second in steals with 40.
The only knock on Kemp is that the Dodgers weren't a playoff team. That shouldn't matter. Ryan Braun had a great year, but his was nowhere near as important as Kemp. Kemp will be the MVP.
Southpaw ace Clayton Kershaw is a lock for the NL Cy Young. Dodger fans need not worry. His 21-5 record is standout, and his 2.28 ERA topped the league. The 248 batters he struck out helped him achieve the pitching Triple Crown, which hands him the Cy Young with no doubters.
So, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw will surely be part of an exclusive Dodger club by next Tuesday.
As a Dodger fan, you have to be excited. Kemp is now locked in for the long haul and Kershaw will surely get a new deal soon as well. With new ownership coming and these two players shining, the future at Chavez Ravine is bright.
Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined B/R in October 2011. Any comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome.
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