November 13, 2013
Internet Baseball Awards
NL Pitcher of the Year
There was little doubt in the minds of the voters as to who was this year’s Internet Baseball Awards National League Pitcher of the Year. Clayton Kershaw received 567 of the 592 first-place votes—an astounding 95.8 percent, the sixth-highest share in IBA history. The only previous IBA winners to receive a higher percentage of first-place votes are: Mike Trout (2012 AL ROY), Johan Santana (2006 AL PoY), Pedro Martinez (1999 AL PoY), Nomar Garciaparra (1997 AL RoY) and Greg Maddux (1995 NL PoY).
Kershaw led the National League in PVORP en route to his second IBA NL Pitcher of the Year Award and became just the third starting pitcher since the turn of the century to post a sub-2.00 ERA. A quick glance at Kershaw’s .252 BABIP may lead to conclusions about good luck, but the southpaw has actually been exceptional at suppressing BABIP over his career. Since 2009, Kershaw’s yearly BABIPs have ranged between .262-.275, so his historically excellent 1.83 ERA shouldn’t be considered overly driven by good fortune.
Kershaw has steadily mixed in his curveball during the past two seasons at the expense of his fastball usage. While he employed the curve a modest 12.5 percent of the time this season, Gregor Blanco, among others, can attest that it is one of the nastiest hooks in the game. Opposing batters bit hard on the curve this season, as Kershaw set career-highs in both swing percentage and whiff rate with his curveball. Kershaw’s curve provided more trouble for opposing offenses than any other pitch in the league this season, as batters mustered only a .089 TAv against the pitch.
With two IBA NL Pitcher of the Year Awards through his age-25 season, Kershaw has accomplished a great deal at a young age and has thrown his name into the conversation about the best young pitchers this generation has seen. Dating back to 1950 (as far back as BP WARP goes), only Bert Blyleven, Dwight Gooden, Roger Clemens and Don Drysdale have accumulated more PWARP through their age-25 seasons than Kershaw.
Finishing second in the voting was Adam Wainwright, who accumulated the second-highest single-season PWARP of his career and looked like the Wainwright of old following a first season back from Tommy John surgery that was filled with ups and downs. Despite having his season prematurely come to a close, Matt Harvey notched third place, barely edging out IBA NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez. Harvey led all starting pitchers in FRA and may have cut into Kershaw’s first-place votes had he been able to notch a few more starts. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until at least 2015 for an encore from the Mets’ phenom.
You can see the full results of the Internet Baseball Awards National League Pitcher of the Year voting here.