Since Cy Young became an award in 1956, there have been 13 pitchers to win the traditional pitching triple crown: that is, leading the league or tying for the league lead in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average. All have one particular trait in common:
|Pitching Triple Crown Winners Since 1956|
|Pitcher||Team||Year||Wins||ERA||Strikeouts||Cy Young Finish||1st Place Votes|
|Sandy Koufax||LAD||1963*||25||1.88||306||1st||20 of 20|
|Sandy Koufax||LAD||1965*||26||2.04||382||1st||20 of 20|
|Sandy Koufax||LAD||1966*||27||1.73||317||1st||20 of 20|
|Steve Carlton||Phi||1972||27||1.97||310||1st||24 of 24|
|Dwight Gooden||NYM||1985||24||1.53||268||1st||24 of 24|
|Roger Clemens||Tor||1997||21||2.05||292||1st||25 of 28|
|Roger Clemens||Tor||1998||20||2.65||271||1st||28 of 28|
|Pedro Martinez||Bos||1999||23||2.07||313||1st||28 of 28|
|Randy Johnson||Ari||2002||24||2.32||334||1st||32 of 32|
|Johan Santana||Min||2006||19||2.77||245||1st||28 of 28|
|Jake Peavy||SD||2007||19||2.54||240||1st||32 of 32|
|Justin Verlander||Det||2011||24||2.40||250||1st||28 of 28|
|Clayton Kershaw||LAD||2011||21||2.28||248||???||?? of 32|
|*There was only one Cy Young Award for both leagues from 1956-1966|
I see a trend here that bodes well for Clayton Kershaw when the Baseball Writers Association of America announces the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner on Thursday at 11 a.m. PST. All 12 triple crown winners aside from Kershaw have taken home the Cy Young Award, and all but Roger Clemens with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997 won unanimously. 309 of 312 first-place votes isn't bad.
This is not to say that Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies wouldn't be a worthy choice for this year's award; in fact, quite the contrary. In many ways, it can easily be argued that Halladay should be the favorite. But the difference between Kershaw and Halladay, or even Cliff Lee, was fairly negligible this year, and a close vote wouldn't surprise me.
But if I were a betting man — and I am — I would wager a fair amount of money on Kershaw winning this year's award. We shall find out Thursday.