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Clayton Kershaw first pitcher ever with 5 straight top-3 Cy Young Award finishes

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw might not win his third consecutive Cy Young Award, but he made history nonetheless on Tuesday afternoon voted as one of three finalists for the 2015 National League Cy Young Award.

Kershaw is the first pitcher in history to finish in the top three in Cy Young voting for five consecutive seasons.

The other NL finalists along with Kershaw are Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta. The winners will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network.

Kershaw won the award in 2011, 2013 and 2014, and finished second to R.A. Dickey in 2012. He was one of just seven pitchers to finish in the top three for four straight seasons. The other six:

  • Greg Maddux: won four straight awards (1992-1995); no votes in 1991, finished fifth in 1996
  • Randy Johnson: won four straight (1999-2002); no votes in 1998 or 2003
  • Pedro Martinez: finished first, second, first, first (1997-2000); no votes in 1996 or 2001
  • Sandy Koufax: finished first, third, first, first (1963-1966); no votes in 1962, retired after 1966
  • Jim Palmer: finished first, first, second, third (1975-1978); no votes in 1974 (also won in 1973) or 1979
  • Dan Quisenberry: finished third, second, second, third (1982-1985); no votes in 1981 or 1986

Maddux finished in the top five in seven straight years (1992-98), Roy Halladay finished in the top five in six straight seasons (2006-2011), and Don Sutton (1974-1978), Johan Santana (2004-2008) and CC Sabathia (2007-2011) each finished in the top five for five straight seasons.

But Kershaw is now the only one to finish in the top three for five straight years.

This is the part where we remember that in the first 11 years of the award there was only one award for all of MLB rather than one in each league. In addition, the ballot consisted of just one vote through 1969, making it much more difficult to make down-ballot appearances.

There were three names on the ballot from 1970-2010, then in 2011 the ballot moved to five names, the same style used today.

Warren Spahn seems like he almost certainly would have finished in the top three for six straight years had there been awards for both leagues. After finishing third in 1956, the first year of the Cy Young Award's existence, Spahn finished first in 1957, then second in 1958, 1960 and 1961.

In 1959, an American League pitcher - Early Wynn of the White Sox - won the award with 13 of 16 votes. Sam Jones of the Giants (21-15, 2.83 ERA) got two votes, and Bob Shaw of the White Sox got one vote. Spahn was 21-15 with a 2.96 ERA, tied Jones for the league lead in wins, and led in complete games and innings.

Kershaw, for what it's worth, has won three of the last four Warren Spahn Awards, too.