Ranking All 10 Seasons of Pitchers Winning Both MVP and Cy Young

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2014

Ranking All 10 Seasons of Pitchers Winning Both MVP and Cy Young

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It's official: Clayton Kershaw is the 10th pitcher in baseball history to win both Cy Young and MVP honors in the same season.

    After unanimously claiming National League Cy Young honors on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace finished off the rare feat by beating fellow finalists Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen for NL MVP honors, as reported by the BBWAA on Twitter.

    Given the sheer dominance he displayed throughout the regular season, this does not come as much of a surprise, but it's feat worth celebrating nonetheless.

    So with the voting now official, let's take a look at where Kershaw's 2014 performance ranks alongside the other nine pitchers to claim both awards in the same season.

10. Rollie Fingers, 1981

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    Season Stats

     GW-LSVERAWHIPBB/9K/9IPWAR
    Fingers476-328/341.040.8721.57.078.04.2
    AL Rank*2nd5th1st2nd2nd1st8th7th1st

    *Among relief pitchers with a minimum 15 appearances.

    Season Overview

    In the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Milwaukee Brewers reached the postseason for the first time in franchise history. They would win the American League pennant the following season, but it was '81 when closer Rollie Fingers took home both Cy Young and MVP.

    Fingers had been acquired from the San Diego Padres prior to the start of the season in a blockbuster deal that also brought Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich to Milwaukee.

    While his contributions in the ninth inning helped push the Brewers over the top, Fingers might not even have been the best closer in baseball that season, let alone a deserving Cy Young and MVP winner.

    Rich Gossage converted 20 of 23 save chances for the New York Yankees and bested Fingers in ERA (0.77), WHIP (0.771) and K/9 (9.3), among others things.

    As for MVP, Rickey Henderson (.319/.408/.437, 56 SB) finished a close second, while Cecil Cooper (.320/.363/.495, 12 HR, 60 RBI) might have been a better choice among Brewers candidates.

9. Don Newcombe, 1956

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    Newcombe3627-73.063.480.98946139268.04.5
    NL Rank*4th1st4th7th1st6th7th4th6th

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    In the first year the Cy Young Award was handed out, back when only one was awarded in both leagues, Brooklyn Dodgers ace Don Newcombe made it a clean sweep in capturing both Cy Young and MVP honors.

    After missing the 1952 and 1953 seasons while serving in the military, Newcombe was back to ace form in 1955, going 20-5 with a 3.20 ERA to help lead the Dodgers to a World Series title.

    He followed that up with the best season of his career in '56, leading the league in wins and WHIP to help the Dodgers capture a second straight NL pennant.

    As food as Newcombe was that season, a case can be made for Warren Spahn (20-11, 2.78 ERA, 1.070 WHIP) being the more deserving recipient of the NL Cy Young that season.

    As for MVP honors, fellow Dodgers star Duke Snider might have been the better choice, as he led the NL in OPS (.997), home runs (43) and WAR (7.6), posting the fourth of what would be five straight 40-homer seasons.

8. Roger Clemens, 1986

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    Clemens3324-42.482.810.96967238254.08.9
    AL Rank*15th1st1st1st1st20th2nd5th2nd

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    In his first full season in the Red Sox rotation and just his third season in the majors, a 23-year-old Roger Clemens became the first starting pitcher since 1968 to win both awards.

    He helped lead Boston to its first World Series appearance in a decade that year, though the team would fall to the New York Mets in seven games.

    Clemens led the league in wins, ERA and WHIP, but left-hander Teddy Higuera actually had the better WAR (9.4), as he went 20-11 with a 2.79 ERA and 207 strikeouts for a Milwaukee Brewers team that finished below .500. He finished second in AL Cy Young voting.

    Don Mattingly (.352/.394/.573, 31 HR, 113 RBI) and Jim Rice (.324/.384/.490, 20 HR, 110 RBI) were the only other players to receive first place MVP votes with five and four, respectively.

    The Yankees finished 90-72, second to the Red Sox in the AL East, to miss the postseason. Otherwise, Mattingly likely would have taken home MVP honors for the second year in a row.

7. Denny McLain, 1968

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    McLain4131-61.962.530.90563280336.07.4
    AL Rank*1st1st4th4th3rd16th2nd1st2nd

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    Odds are we will never see another 30-win season, so the numbers Denny McLain put up in 1968 will always have a special place in baseball history.

    They earned him Cy Young and MVP honors unanimously, and while his numbers were impressive, one can't help but wonder if he would have received the same support in today's game where wins don't carry the same weight they used to.

    By today's standards, a case can be made for Luis Tiant (21-9, 1.60 ERA, 264 K, 7.8 WAR) or Sam McDowell (15-14, 1.81 ERA, 283 K) winning the Cy Young over McLain.

    On the MVP side, Carl Yastrzemski (.301/.426/.495, 23 HR, 74 RBI) led the league with a 10.5 WAR, on the heels of winning the AL Triple Crown and MVP honors the year before.

    It's also worth noting, when the World Series rolled around, it was Mickey Lolich and not McLain who assumed the role of staff ace and outdueled Bob Gibson on his way to World Series MVP honors at 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA. That had no bearing on the regular season awards, but it's just something worth pointing out.

6. Willie Hernandez, 1984

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    Associated Press

    Season Stats

     GW-LSVERAWHIPBB/9K/9IPWAR
    Hernandez809-332/331.920.9412.37.2140.14.8
    AL Rank*1st2nd3rd1st1st5th12th1st1st

    *Among relief pitchers with a minimum 30 appearances.

    Season Overview

    Willie Hernandez was the definition of a workhorse out of the Detroit Tigers bullpen in 1984. He turned in one of just 21 seasons in MLB history where a pitcher threw more than 140 innings without starting a game.

    He blew just one save in 33 opportunities and added another nine wins out of the bullpen for a Tigers team that went 104-58 and cruised to a World Series title with a 7-1 record in the postseason.

    Another closer in Dan Quisenberry (44-of-53 SV, 2.64 ERA) finished a close second in Cy Young voting (88 to 71 vote points). Bert Blyleven (19-7, 2.87 ERA, 170 K) and Mike Boddicker (20-11, 2.79 ERA, 128 K) also received first-place votes.

    Hernandez actually won the AL MVP vote more handily, receiving 16 of 28 first place votes. Minnesota Twins slugger Kent Hrbek (.311/.383/.522, 27 HR, 107 RBI) and Quisenberry received five each.

    Considering how dominant the '84 Tigers were, it makes sense that someone on that team walked away with MVP honors. Kirk Gibson (.282/.363/.516, 27 HR, 29 SB) and Alan Trammell (314/.382/.468, 14 HR, 19 RBI) were the other viable candidates from the team, and they finished sixth and ninth, respectively, in the voting.

5. Dennis Eckersley, 1992

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Season Stats

     GW-LSVERAWHIPBB/9K/9IPWAR
    Eckersley697-151/541.910.9131.210.580.02.9
    AL Rank*6th6th1st7th1st1st1st18th5th

    *Among relief pitchers with a minimum 30 appearances.

    Season Overview

    A starter for the first 12 seasons of his career, during which time he went 151-128 with a 3.67 ERA, future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley moved to the bullpen after being traded to the Oakland A's in 1987.

    In his nine seasons in Oakland, he piled up 320 saves, made four All-Star appearances and helped the A's to four playoff appearances and three AL pennants.

    His best season came in 1992, when the 37-year-old set a franchise record with 51 saves in helping the A's to a 96-66 record and AL West division title.

    Jack McDowell (20-10, 3.18 ERA, 178 K), Roger Clemens (18-11, 2.41 ERA, 208 K) and Mike Mussina (18-5, 2.54 ERA, 130 K) were the biggest competition for Cy Young honors, but Eckersley ran away with the voting with 19 of 28 first-place votes.

    The MVP was a landslide of sorts as well, with Kirby Puckett (.329/.374/.490, 19 HR, 110 RBI) and Joe Carter (.264/.309/.498, 34 HR, 119 RBI) both finishing roughly 100 vote points behind Eckersley.

    While it's generally hard to justify calling a closer the MVP, considering the fact that he only factored into 80 innings of the entire season, Eckersley was a worth recipient given his numbers and the rest of the field in 1992.

4. Justin Verlander, 2011

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    Verlander3424-52.402.990.92057250251.08.4
    AL Rank*1st1st1st4th1st19th1st1st1st

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    Already one of the game's best pitchers heading into the 2011 season, Justin Verlander established himself as the best in the business with a dominant all-around performance.

    The 28-year-old led the American League in virtually every category that season, edging out Jered Weaver for the ERA title (2.40 to 2.41) to claim the pitching Triple Crown.

    As if his 28 quality starts were not impressive enough, he also pitched at least seven innings in 26 starts and never lasted fewer than six innings in any of his 34 starts. That stability atop the rotation helped lead the Tigers to an AL Central title.

    Verlander took home Cy Young honors unanimously, with Weaver (18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 K), James Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 K) and CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 K) ranking as his biggest competition for the award.

    The MVP race was much tighter, as his 280 vote points edged out Jacoby Ellsbury (.321/.376/.552, 32 HR, 39 SB), Jose Bautista (.302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI) and Curtis Granderson (.262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI), who all had at least 200 vote points.

3. Clayton Kershaw, 2014

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    Kershaw2721-31.771.810.85731239198.18.0
    NL Rank*40th1st1st1st1st4th3rd20th1st

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    With two Cy Young awards and three straight ERA titles to his credit and a fresh seven-year, $215 million extension on the books, Clayton Kershaw entered the 2014 season as the consensus best pitcher in the game.

    Things did not start out quite as well as many would have hoped, though, as the left-hander missed 31 games at the beginning of the season while dealing with back inflammation.

    After getting shelled for seven earned runs in 1.2 innings in his third start back from injury, Kershaw would close out the season on a ridiculous run.

    Over his final 23 starts, he was 19-2 with a 1.43 ERA, including a 15-strikeouts no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies on June 18. Simply put, he was nothing short of dominant for the better part of the season.

    As expected, he won Cy Young honors unanimously, with Johnny Cueto (20-9, 2.25 ERA, 242 K) and Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA, 179 K) finishing second and third in the voting.

    The MVP vote wasn't unanimous, but he still won it handily with 18 of 30 first-place votes. That beat out Giancarlo Stanton (.288/.395/.555, 37 HR, 105 RBI) and Andrew McCutchen (.314/.410/.542, 25 HR, 83 RBI), among others.

2. Sandy Koufax, 1963

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    HPM/Associated Press

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    Koufax4025-51.881.850.87558306311.010.7
    NL Rank*3rd1st1st1st1st16th1st3rd1st

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    Over the final four seasons of his career, Sandy Koufax put together perhaps the greatest stretch run of any pitcher in baseball history, going 97-27 with a 1.86 ERA and 1,228 strikeouts.

    That span included four ERA titles, three strikeout titles, three NL Cy Young awards, two runner-up finishes in NL MVP voting and an MVP win in 1963.

    While all four of those seasons were impressive, his performance in '63 was arguably the best, as his 11 shutouts were tied for the second-highest mark since the Dead Ball Era.

    He also threw the second of what would be four career no-hitters in May against the San Francisco Giants, tallied 20 complete games and struck out double-digit hitters an impressive 11 times.

    He won the Cy Young unanimously in a time when only first-place votes were handed out, and he received 14 of 20 first-place votes for NL MVP.

    Dick Groat (.319/.377/.450, 6 HR, 73 RBI), Hank Aaron (.319/.391/.586, 44 HR, 130 RBI) and Dodgers closer Ron Perranoski (16-3, 21 SV, 1.67 ERA) were his biggest competition for the award, though it was Koufax who deservedly walked away with the trophy.

1. Bob Gibson, 1968

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Season Stats

     GSW-LERAFIPWHIPBBKIPWAR
    Gibson3422-91.121.770.85362268304.211.2
    NL Rank*10th2nd1st1st1st25th1st3rd1st

    *Among qualified starting pitchers.

    Season Overview

    It's no surprise to see Bob Gibson in the No. 1 spot on this list, as his 1968 season is considered by many to be the greatest single-season pitching performance of all time.

    Based primarily on the strength of his performance, the league decided to lower the pitching mounds the following season, and his 1.12 ERA and 13 shutouts still stand as Live Ball Era (1920-present) records.

    During one 11-game stretch in the middle of the season, Gibson went 11-0 with a 0.27 ERA and eight shutouts, including five straight.

    The word "dominant" simply does not quite do a stretch like that justice.

    Not surprisingly, he won Cy Young honors unanimously, though Pete Rose did give him a run for NL MVP honors.

    Rose hit .335/.391/.470 with 210 hits, 42 doubles, 10 home runs and 94 runs scored, earning six of the 20 first-place votes. Gibson took the rest, though, and rightfully earned a clean sweep of the major awards.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.