But the D-backs right-hander was all smiles after finishing fourth in the voting behind the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and Phillies teammates Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.
The three guys that finished ahead of him all were projected before the season to be contenders for the award. Kennedy, meanwhile, forced his way into the conversation by going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 33 starts.
"It would have been awesome to win, but you realize that there are other guys that are more deserving or just as deserving," Kennedy said. "To me, it's just great to be mentioned."
Kennedy was picked to be the Opening Day starter by Kirk Gibson and rewarded his manager's faith by becoming the staff's ace.
NL Cy Young voting totals
More than anything, though, Kennedy enjoyed the 2011 season because his team won 94 games and the National League West title after finishing in last place the previous two seasons.
"My team went to the playoffs and we went from last to first," Kennedy said. "And I just had the most fun enjoying that part of it. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that I would win the Cy Young but my team wouldn't make the playoffs, I would have been disappointed. That's what we play for. We don't play for the individual awards. You play for going to the playoffs, getting a ring, that kind of stuff."
No one can argue Kershaw's credentials. The Dodgers left-hander went 21-5 and led the NL in ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248).
Kennedy's biggest selling point was his 21 wins, but wins increasingly have become a less-favored barometer of pitching excellence for reasons Kennedy himself pointed out many times during the season and again Thursday.
"A lot of those wins wouldn't have happened without the bullpen or the offensive support I received," he said. "I look at my wins as a team thing, not just something about me."
Kershaw captured 27 of the 32 first-place votes and finished with 207 points, easily outdistancing Halladay's 133 points.
Other than Halladay, who got four, the only other pitcher to receive a first-place vote was Kennedy, who got one to go along with three second-place votes, six third-place votes, 18 fourth-place votes and three fifth-place votes.
"If you would have told me I was going to be up for the Cy Young Award or be in the top four in the league, I mean, as a kid growing up you want to be one of the best pitchers," Kennedy said. "You play in the backyard and you dream of being one of those guys, so to be up for those awards or to be among those names, it's just something I feel really blessed for being mentioned with some great names."