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Clayton Kershaw wins 3rd NL Cy Young Award

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had a tough act to follow after what looked like a career year in 2013, but he managed to be even better in 2014 and on Wednesday was rewarded, winning the National League Cy Young Award unanimously, announced by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

It is Kershaw's third Cy Young Award, matching Sandy Koufax for the most in Dodgers history.

Kershaw received all 30 first-place votes, giving him 88 of a possible 124 first-place votes in the last four years (the left-hander finished second in 2012, the only year from 2011-2014 that Kershaw didn't win the Cy Young Award). Johnny Cueto of the Reds finished in second place, followed by Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

Kershaw was 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 27 starts in 2014, leading the majors in ERA for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season. He also led the majors in wins, WHIP (0.857), strikeouts per nine innings (10.85), strikeout rate (31.9 percent), K-BB% (27.8 percent), ERA+ (197), FIP (1.81) and xFIP (2.08).

He finished with 239 strikeouts, only three off the NL lead and another pitching triple crown, despite missing five weeks and ending with only 198⅓ innings, his lowest total since 2009.

Kershaw led the majors in the Baseball-Reference version of Win Above Replacement (7.5), narrowly edging Corey Kluber (7.4), who was slightly ahead of Kershaw in FanGraphs WAR, 7.3 to 7.2.

He was second in the majors with a 7.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the highest in Dodgers history.

Kershaw's signature season came with a signature game, a no-hitter against the Rockies on June 18. Kershaw struck out 15 and walked none against Colorado, and the only thing separating him from a perfect game was a throwing error in the seventh inning by shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

The no-hitter was near the start of Kershaw's 41-inning scoreless streak, tied with Luis Tiant (1968) for the fifth-longest scoreless streak in the expansion era (1961-preset).

Kershaw pitched deeper into games than he ever has before, leading the majors with 7.35 innings per start and six complete games. Kershaw had a stretch of 16 starts from June to September with saw him average over eight innings per start, including 13 starts during that span lasting at least that long.

In June, Kershaw had more wins (six) than runs allowed (four) and walks (four), all while striking out 61, winning National League Pitcher of the Month honors. Kershaw fell into a deep slump in July, allowing five runs in five starts, with four wins, four walks, 43 strikeouts and another Pitcher of the Month award.

Kershaw's 2014 award is the 12th Cy Young Award won by a Dodgers pitcher, the most by any team, and the first unanimous choice for the franchise since Orel Hershiser in 1988.

For winning the Cy Young Award, Kershaw earned a $1 million bonus.

He will find out on Thursday if he will also be the first NL pitcher since 1968 to win the Most Valuable Player award. Kershaw was announced last week as one of the top three finishers for the award, which will be announced at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network.