Clayton Kershaw came within one vote of perfection in winning the National League Cy Young Award as best pitcher of the season, and Max Scherzer was one step behind him in claiming American League honors on Wednesday.
Kershaw, who led Major League Baseball with a 1.83 earned run average in going 16-9 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, received 29 of the 30 first-place votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“This is such a cool thing,” Kershaw told MLB TV after the announcement. “It’s awesome. It really is a huge honor.”
Before the cameras went to Scherzer, who posted a 21-3 record and 2.90 ERA for the Detroit Tigers, the hard-throwing righthander tweeted: “Ahhhhh!!! What a feeling!! Can’t wait to get my hands on this trophy!!”
It was the second Cy Young for 25-year-old Kershaw, following his selection in 2011. The left-hander, who pairs a knee-buckling curveball with his sizzling fastball, was also runner-up in last year’s balloting.
Kershaw said he was proudest of the consistency he has achieved in his young major league career.
“I feel like anybody can have one great season or one great half of a season,” said Kershaw, who has won three consecutive NL ERA titles.
“For me, I think the mark of a truly good player or good pitcher is to be able to do it year in, year out. For me, that’s my goal, to be that model of consistency.”
Kershaw helped the Dodgers go on a midseason tear in which they won 42 of 50 games on their way to the NL West title.
“Congratulations to Clayton on a great year and a most deserving Cy Young honor,” said Dodger Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who won Cy Young Awards in 1963, 1965 and 1966. “This is the second of many more to come. He’s got quite a future ahead of him.”
Adam Wainwright of the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals received the other first-place vote and was runner-up, ahead of NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins.
Scherzer enjoyed a breakout season for the AL Central champion Tigers after years of promise.
The 29-year-old Scherzer mastered control of his breaking pitch and locked in the mechanics of his delivery to register consistent success in 2013.
“I can’t say enough about my teammates for busting their butts every single day and fighting on defense, and getting those extra runs for me because I think that really helped my candidacy,” said Scherzer, who was the only 20-game winner in the majors.
“I’ve been working every year to get better and better, every single year trying to do something better than the next. I believe I took a big step forward in 2013.”
Scherzer received 28 first-place votes of the 30 cast.
Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish was runner-up in the voting for the highest finish ever for a Japanese player.
Third place in the balloting went to his compatriot, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners.