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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Kershaw aiming for pitching triple crown

By Scott Randall

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Clayton Kershaw looks to become the 9th pitcher to win the triple crown since 1956.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (who pitches Wednesday) leads the National League in strikeouts (231), is tied for first with Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds in ERA (2.36) and trails Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks by one for the most wins (Kershaw has 18).

Eight pitchers have won the pitching triple crown (wins, ERA, and strikeouts) a combined 11 times since the Cy Young Award was first given out in 1956. All 11 of those seasons resulted in a first-place finish in Cy Young voting.

If Kershaw were to win, it wouldn’t be shocking for the award to go to a player from a losing team (the Dodgers are currently three games under .500). It’s happened 15 times including each of the last three seasons. The Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez (2010) and Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals (2009) won the AL Cy Young, and the San Francisco Giants Tim Lincecum took home the NL award in 2008.

However, if teammate Matt Kemp were to win MVP he would become just the sixth winner from a losing team since the Baseball Writers started giving the award in 1931.

If Kemp and Kershaw were to pull off the double they would be the 19th set of teammates to do so but could be the first from a losing team.

Seventeen of the previous 18 teams that had both a Cy Young Award winner and a league MVP went to the playoffs with the exception being the 1962 Dodgers, who won 102 games but lost a best-of-three playoff to the Giants for the pennant. The worst team in terms of win percentage was the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies, who were 91-71 (.562).