In what figures to be the first of many awards this offseason, Dodgers ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday was named the 2014 Major League Player of the Year by Baseball America.
Kershaw is the second Dodger to win the award, which has been given out since 1998. Matt Kemp captured the top honors in 2011.
Despite missing five weeks with a strained teres major muscle in his upper back, Kershaw led the majors in wins (21) and ERA (1.77), the first player to lead the majors in ERA in four straight seasons. Kershaw struck out 239 batters, just three off the National League lead, in his 198... innings, setting career highs in strikeout rate (31.9 percent), strikeouts per nine innings (10.85) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.71), leading the National League in all three categories.
The left-hander is in line to win his third Cy Young Award in four seasons, and is the favorite to also win National League MVP, which would be the first by an NL pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968.
Bill Shaikin, writing for Baseball America, described Kershaw's all-around prowess in 2014:
In June, he threw a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts. In September, he startled Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper by running from first base to third on a softly-hit single. In the National League West division clincher, he fielded a ground ball between his legs—with his back turned to home plate—and tripled home the tying run.
The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce both Cy Young Award winners on Nov. 12, with MVP awards to follow on Nov. 13.