Clayton Kershaw still doesn’t have a World Series ring, but he received the ultimate consolation prize Thursday.
Kershaw was voted the most valuable player of the National League, becoming the first NL pitcher to win the award since Bob Gibson in 1968. He received 18 first-place votes and 355 points in the balloting to edge Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (eight first-place vote and 298 points) and Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (four first-place votes and 271 points).
The major award was the second for Kershaw in as many days. On Wednesday, he won the NL Cy Young Award for the third time in four years. The last pitcher to win the Cy Young and league MVP awards was Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers in 2011.
The Dodgers’ last NL MVP was Kirk Gibson, who won the award in 1988.
Kershaw, 26, was sidelined for the entire month of April with a strained back muscle, but came back to finish with a league-best record of 21-3. His earned-run average of 1.77 was the lowest in baseball and his six shutouts were the most.
Late in the season, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said he was certain Kershaw deserved the MVP award.
“If someone even tries to mention someone else, they’re an idiot,” Gonzalez said.
Kershaw’s dominance was such that Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly changed his mind about whether pitchers should receive MVP consideration. Mattingly previously said they should not.
Mattingly said that when Roger Clemens edged him for the 1986 American League MVP award, he had trouble understanding what the voters were thinking, putting a pitcher ahead of an everyday player.
“That was then,” Mattingly said. “As a manager, you see how valuable a guy like Clayton is — or Clemens, or whoever that dominant guy is.”