NEW YORK — Everyone expected Clayton Kershaw to pitch a shutout, and he did — a unanimous choice for the National League Cy Young Award.
Corey Kluber edging out Felix Hernandez for the American League pitching prize, that was no sure thing.
Now, the big question: Is Kershaw the Most Valuable Player, too?
“I can’t even really fathom it happening,” Kershaw said on a conference call Wednesday, shortly after winning his third Cy Young in four seasons.
Kershaw led the majors in victories and ERA and threw a no-hitter, going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 26-year-old lefty with a wicked curveball will find out Thursday if he’s the first NL pitcher to sweep the MVP and Cy Young honors since Bob Gibson in 1968.
“I think a lot of things probably have to go right,” Kershaw said, adding, “there are so many people out there who don’t think a pitcher should win.”
Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who won the National League MVP last year, and Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton are competing against Kershaw for honor.
“Everybody’s going to have an opinion” on the position player-vs.-pitcher debate, Kershaw said.
His thought? “I don’t really have an opinion either way,” he said, diplomatically.
“I think most valuable is such a tough thing to assess,” he said.
Kershaw won the Cy Young for the second year in a row, getting all 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Johnny Cueto of Cincinnati was second with 112 points, followed by Adam Wainwright of St. Louis (97) and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner of San Francisco (28).
Voting was completed before the postseason began. Kershaw went 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in a Division Series loss to St. Louis, leaving him at 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in his playoff career.
“For me, personally, the season didn’t end the way I wanted to,” Kershaw said.
Official: Taveras was drunk
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Dominican officials say St. Louis Cardinals rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras was drunk at the time of his fatal car crash last month.
Tessie Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office in the Dominican Republic, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that toxicology reports showed Taveras had a blood-alcohol level five times the legal limit when he lost control of his car Oct. 26 on a highway in Puerto Plata.
She says the 22-year-old Taveras was “legally intoxicated when he crashed.”
Taveras was among the majors’ top prospects. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games this year.
Taveras’ 18-year-old girlfriend was in the car and also died.
Baseball to speed up?
PHOENIX — Major League Baseball might look at tweaking its replay challenge system to prevent managers from lingering on the field before determining if they want a play reviewed.
The replay system was changed last season, allowing teams one challenge per game, and another if that one was successful.
All sides seemed pleased overall with the system. But there was concern that managers were spending too much time on the field, stalling while awaiting word from the dugout on whether to challenge or not.