After a regular season to remember, Clayton Kershaw had a postseason to forget. The question now: When it comes to individual awards, should one impact the other?

As the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) prepares to hand out its shiny trophies, culminating with the league MVPs on Nov. 13, the answer for the moment is “no.”

Kershaw is a lock to win his third National League Cy Young in four seasons, and he’s a finalist for NL MVP. His disappointing finish will do nothing to change that.

That’s because BBWAA voters cast their ballots immediately after Game 162, meaning playoff performance (or lack thereof) doesn’t factor in. So Kershaw’s eye-popping regular-season line—198.1 IP, 1.77 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 239 SO—matters, and the 11 earned runs he coughed up in 12.2 October innings don’t.

Many would say that’s fair; these are regular-season awards, after all. The postseason offers its own hardware.

Then again, shouldn’t a guy be judged, at least partially, on how he produces under the game’s brightest glare?

It would be an easy change. Writers could simply sit on their ballots for an extra few weeks and vote after the final out of the World Series. Maybe what they saw would influence their decision, maybe it wouldn’t.

At least they’d get to sift through all of the evidence.

This is purely hypothetical. Analyst and former player Billy Ripken floated the notion during the MLB Network’s awards finalists announcement show Nov. 4, but to our knowledge it’s not being discussed in official corners, let alone seriously considered. 

Still, let’s perpend the pros and cons and see if the idea has merit.


The Case for Change

Almost every year players are rewardedor penalizedin the major awards categories based on whether their teams made the playoffs. Why not also consider what they do once they get there?

Obviously it doesn’t make sense to weigh a handful of postseason games more heavily than an entire grind-it-out campaign. If a guy was a no-brainer for a particular honor before the playoffs, he should still be a no-brainer after.

In a close race, though, October output could tip the scale.

Take Kershaw: He’s your NL Cy Young winner, hands down. The St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright is probably the closest competition, but Kershaw’s numbers blow his away (and Wainwright had a rocky postseason, too). 

The NL MVP race, on the other hand, is tighter. Kershaw is the favorite over his fellow finalists, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton.

But add that unsightly 7.82 National League Division Series ERA—and recall Kershaw taking the loss in the game that killed the Dodgers’ seasonand maybe his MVP edge evaporates.

As Kershaw himself said after his unceremonious final outing, per Ken Gurnick of, “The season ended and I’m a big part of the reason why.”

The point isn’t to pile on Kershaw, who is obviously among the best arms of his generation. But won’t it feel hollow when he stuffs his trophy case a tad tighter, as he’s almost sure to do?


The Case Against Change

Let’s stick with the NL MVP race. Look at Kershaw’s competition: McCutchen took an 0-for-3 in the Pirates’ NL Wild Card Game loss to the San Francisco Giants, while Stanton’s Marlins missed the dance altogether.

Sure, Kershaw had a couple of wobbly postseason starts, but his MVP competition didn’t even have a chance to be bad. They were sitting at home. 

And it’s not like another player on the fringe of the NL MVP race did enough to sprint to the head of the pack. The closest candidate is probably Buster Posey, who earned some MVP chatter with his strong second half and caught every inning of the Giants’ championship run.

But Posey posted a pedestrian .246 batting average in October and didn’t record an extra-base hit. Heck, a stronger case could be made for Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who carried San Francisco on his back with a remarkable, historic postseason performance.

Bottom line: Neither Posey, Bumgarner nor anyone else deserves to dethrone Kershaw. The regular season is a marathon; the playoffs are a sprint. They’re two different animals and should be treated as such.


The Verdict

“Consider the playoffs” is an intriguing argument, but ultimately it falls flat. columnist Anthony Castrovince, writing for Sports on Earth, sums it up succinctly:

Now more than ever, with the extra Wild Card round, the postseason is a season unto itself, and the extra off days make its style of playespecially in terms of bullpen usagevery different from the regular season. Besides, we already have League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards to go around. If anything, we ought to have one, overarching postseason MVP honor.

These BWAA Awards do well to honor those who fare best in the 162-game grind, rather than a small sample. 

Undoubtedly Kershawand every player before him who chased a stellar regular season with a disheartening Octoberwould happily trade his trophies for a ring.

For now, Kershaw can polish the inevitable consolation prizes—and wait till next year.


All statistics courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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