NEW YORK – Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award in nearly a half-century, coasting an easy victory Thursday.
Mike Trout was a unanimous pick for the AL honor after finishing second the previous two years. The 23-year-old became the fifth-youngest MVP in major league history and the youngest unanimous selection.
Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace, breezed past Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen for the NL award.
Bob Gibson in 1968 was the previous pitcher to be the NL MVP. Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander won the AL MVP in 2011.
"To have people think you mean that much to your team, it really is a huge honor," Kershaw said on the MLB Network telecast.
There was plenty of everyday player-vs.-pitcher MVP debate leading up to this announcement. Soon after Kershaw unanimously won the NL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, he acknowledged "there are so many people out there who don't think a pitcher should win."
This time, the 26-year-old lefty's numbers again dominated hitters — Kershaw led the majors in wins and ERA while going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and throwing a no-hitter for the NL West champions.
Kershaw got 18 of 30 first-place votes and 355 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Stanton got eight first-place ballots and 298 points. He led the NL with 37 homers and was second with 105 RBIs, and missed the last 17 games for the fourth-place Marlins after being hit in the face by a fastball.
McCutchen got four firsts and 271 points in his bid to win the award for the second straight year. He hit .314 with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs for the wild-card Pirates.
Six AL pitchers have won the MVP since Gibson took it for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Before Gibson, seven pitchers had won the NL MVP, a list that includes Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Carl Hubbell and Dizzy Dean.
The AL MVP has been won 12 times by pitchers, starting when it was first presented in 1931 to Lefty Grove.
Kershaw won the major league season opener in Australia on March 22, then missed more than a month when a strained upper back put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Kershaw came back to win his second straight NL Cy Young and third in four years.
Featuring sharp breaking balls, Kershaw was the first pitcher to top the majors in ERA for four straight years.
Kershaw led the big leagues in complete games and was best among starters in strikeouts per nine innings and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning).
The four-time All-Star struck out 239 in 198 1-3 innings. On June 18, he threw the first no-hitter of his career, at Dodger Stadium against Colorado.
Dodgers players have won 11 MVPs, led by Roy Campanella in 1951, '53 and '56. Also winning were Dolph Camilli (1941), Jackie Robinson (1949), Don Newcombe (1956), Maury Wills (1962), Koufax (1963), Steve Garvey (1974) and Kirk Gibson (1988).
Trout received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points. Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez was second with 229 points and Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley third with 185.
Trout hit .287 and set career highs in home runs (36) and RBIs (111) while leading the major leagues in runs with 115 and extra-base hits with 84. In his third full season, the Los Angeles Angels center fielder matched his bests in doubles (39) and triple (nine). He also was MVP of the All-Star game in July.
"It's something special, for sure," Trout said. "If you would have told me this before the season started, I would have just laughed at you. It's just an unbelievable feeling."
Trout was a unanimous pick as the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and was second in MVP voting to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera in both of his first two full seasons, 81 points back in 2012 and 103 points behind last year. He joined Mickey Mantle as the only players to win after finishing second twice in a row.
At 23 years, 52 days on the final day of the regular season, Trout is younger than all MVPs except Vida Blue (1971), Johnny Bench (1970), Stan Musial (1943) and Cal Ripken Jr. (1983), according to STATS. Musial, Bench and Blue were 22, and Ripken was 23 years, 39 days.
He is the third Angels player to win after Don Baylor (1979) and Vladimir Guerrero (2004).
Kershaw and Trout won the last of baseball's major postseason awards.
Just in time, too. Pitchers and catchers are due at spring training in only 98 days.