Athlon Sports' 2011 NL Cy Young

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Athlon editors name their choice for the NL's best pitcher this season

<p> Athlon editors name their choice for the NL's best pitcher this season</p>

With the World Series in the rear-view mirror and the hot stove just beginning to heat up, it's time to hand out some awards to this year's best performers on the diamond. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) has already named its AL and NL Rookies of the Year, AL and NL Managers of the Year, as well as the American League Cy Young award. And while no Athlon editors are members of the BBWAA, here's how four of us — Charlie Miller, Braden Gall, Patrick Snow and Mark Ross — would have voted if we did have a ballot to cast.

NL Cy Young

Unlike the American League, the vote for the NL Cy Young figures to be closer. This year's field of cotenders and headlined by two previous Cy Young winners and Philadelphia Phillies teammates Roy Halladay (2003 AL, 2010 NL) and Cliff Lee (2008 AL), along with Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers' young left-hander.

They are joined by three other past Cy Young winners Chris Carpenter (2005 NL) of the St. Louis Cardinals, Zack Greinke (2009 AL) of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Tim Lincecum (2008, 2009 NL) of the San Francisco Giants. Other contenders include Halladay and Lee's teammate Cole Hamels, Lincecum's teammates Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, Arizona Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy, and a trio of closers — the Brewers' John Axford, NL Rookie of the Year winner Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves, and the Diamondbacks' J.J. Putz.

Contenders' Stats:

John Axford, RP, Milwaukee Brewers: 2-2, 1.95 ERA, 46 SV, 73 2/3 IP, 25 BB, 86 K, 1.14 WHIP, 74 GP

Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco Giants: 12-11, 2.88 ERA, 221 2/3 IP, 63 BB, 179 K, 1.08 WHIP, 33 GS

Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: 11-9, 3.45 ERA, 237 1/3 IP, 55 BB, 191 K, 1.26 WHIP, 34 GS

Zack Greinke, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: 16-6, 3.83 ERA, 171 2/3 IP, 45 BB, 201 K, 1.20 WHIP, 28 GS

Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 233 2/3 IP, 35 BB, 220 K, 1.04 WHIP, 32 GS

Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: 14-9, 2.79 ERA, 216 IP, 44 BB, 194 K, 0.99 WHIP, 31 GS

Ian Kennedy, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 21-4, 2.88 ERA, 222 IP, 55 BB, 198 K, 1.09 WHIP, 33 GS

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 233 1/3 IP, 54 BB, 248 K, 0.98 WHIP, 33 GS

Craig Kimbrel, P, Atlanta Braves: 4-3, 2.10 ERA, 46 SV, 77 IP, 32 BB, 127 K, 1.04 WHIP,  79 GP

Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 232 2/3 IP, 42 BB, 238 K, 1.03 WHIP, 32 GS

Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants: 13-14, 2.74 ERA, 217 IP, 86 BB, 220 K, 1.21 WHIP, 33 GS

J.J. Putz, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 2-2, 2.17 ERA, 45 SV, 58 IP, 12 BB, 61 K, 0.91 WHIP, 60 GP

Ryan Vogelsong, SP, San Francisco Giants: 13-7, 2.71 ERA, 179 2/3 IP, 61 BB, 139 K, 1.25 WHIP, 28 GS

Athlon's Winner: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw captures all four first-place votes with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee finishing second and third respectively. Ian Kennedy came in fourth and Cole Hamels and Craig Kimbrel tied for fifth on our ballots.

Here's how the Athlon editors voted

Charlie Miller's ballot:

1. Clayton Kershaw
Ranking first in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts and tied for the lead in wins should be enough to earn a Cy Young award. The Dodgers were 23-10 in his starts, 59-69 in all other games.
2. Roy Halladay
Halladay failed to win 20 games finishing with 19 victories. However, he set career bests with 220 strikeouts (third in the NL) and a 2.35 ERA (second). The Phillies’ ace had his team’s third-best, and league’s fourth-best WHIP (1.04).
3. Cliff Lee
Lee, who had six shutouts this season, was in the top three in ERA, WHIP and whiffs. With 17 wins and a 1.03 WHIP, Lee continued to show why he is considered one of the best pitchers in the game. The Phillies were an identical 5-2 in Lee’s and Halladay’s no-decisions.
4. Craig Kimbrel
Before wearing down in September, Kimbrel was the best closer in the NL. He blew a save then got the win on June 8. He then converted 25 straight save opportunities before blowing another on Sept. 8.
5. Ian Kennedy
A 20-game winner for the first time, Kennedy tied with Kershaw with 21 wins to lead the NL, and ranked in the top eight in ERA, WHIP and Ks.
6. Cole Hamels
7. Ryan Vogelsong
8. Tim Lincecum
9. Matt Cain
10. John Axford

Braden Gall's ballot:

1. Clayton Kershaw
Led the NL in strikeouts (248), ERA (2.28) wins (21) and was third in innings pitched on average team.
2. Roy Halladay
No. 2 in the NL in innings (233.2), No. 3 in wins (19), No. 2 in ERA (2.35) and No.1 in BB/K rate (6.29) as ace of best team in the league.
3. Cliff Lee
No. 2 in strikeouts (238), No. 3 in ERA (2.40), No. 3 in WHIP (1.03), No. 4 in wins (17) and league-leader by wide margin with six shutouts.
4. Ian Kennedy
Won 21 of his 25 decisions with sub-3.00 ERA and 1.09 WHIP for AL West champs.
5. Zack Greinke
Posted 16-6 record in only 28 started with a NL-best 10.54 K/9 ratio for NL Central champs.
6. Cole Hamels
Fantastic ratios (2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP). Would be No. 1 on most teams, No. 3 on NL's best team.
7. John Axford
NL leading 46 saves in 48 chances with 1.95 ERA and 10.51 K/9 rate for NL Central champs.
8. Tim Lincecum
Just another solid season for The Freak: 217.0 IP, 13 wins, 220 strikeouts and a 2.74 ERA.
9. Chris Carpenter
Lead the league in innings at 237.1 while pushing Cardinals into playoffs with clutch outings down the stretch.
10. Craig Kimbrel
NL Rookie record for saves (46) with 127 strikeouts in 77.0 innings.

Patrick Snow's ballot:

1. Clayton Kershaw
The 23-year-old southpaw tied for the NL lead in wins (21), while leading senior circuit starters in ERA (2.28), strikeouts (248) and WHIP (0.98). Kershaw also held opponents to a league-best .207 batting average.
2. Roy Halladay
3. Cliff Lee
4. Ian Kennedy
5. Craig Kimbrel
6. Cole Hamels
7. Tim Lincecum
8. Matt Cain
9. John Axford
10. J.J. Putz

Mark Ross' ballot:

1. Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw finished the season with the lowest ERA (2.28) in the majors, was second in strikeouts (248), WHIP (0.98) and opponents’ batting average (.207), and tied for the NL lead in wins with 21. And he’s only 23 years old.
2. Roy Halladay
Last year’s winner posted another solid season winning 19, throwing a NL-leading eight complete games and walking just 35 in 233 2/3 innings, while striking out 220.
3. Cliff Lee
The 2008 AL Cy Young winner led the majors with six shutouts and finished third in both ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (238).
4. Ian Kennedy
Kennedy tied Kershaw for the NL lead in wins with 21 and held opponents to a .227 batting average as the ace of the worst-to-first Arizona Diamondbacks.
5. Craig Kimbrel
The unanimous choice for NL Rookie of the Year, Kimbrel tied for the NL lead in saves with 46 and threw the most innings of any closer in baseball.
6. Cole Hamels
7. John Axford
8. Matt Cain
9. Tim Lincecum
10. J.J. Putz

Other Baseball awards-related content:

American League Rookie of the Year

National League Rookie of the Year

AL & NL Managers of the Year

American League Cy Young

American League MVP

National League MVP

Miscellaneous: 
MLB League: 

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