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Gio wins Spahn Award as MLB's top lefty starter

Gio Gonzalez is one of the leading National League Cy Young Award candidates, but for now, the Nationals left-hander can claim a different honor.

Gonzalez was named Thursday as the winner of the 2012 Warren Spahn Award, which is given annually by the Bricktown Rotary Club of Oklahoma City and the Jim Thorpe Association to the Majors' best southpaw, based on wins, strikeouts and ERA. The 27-year-old, who will make his postseason debut Sunday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, went 21-8 with 207 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA in his first season with the Nationals. Gonzalez also made his second All-Star team and helped lead Washington to the NL East title.

The award, presented by Farmers Insurance, is named after the late Spahn, an Oklahoman and a Hall of Fame pitcher who leads all lefties with 363 career wins.

"I'm honored to even be mentioned in the same breath as Warren Spahn and the past winners of this award," Gonzalez said in a statement. "I truly am humbled by this recognition."

Spahn's son Greg, a member of the Spahn Award board of directors, said Gonzalez is a good representative for the honor.

"Gio had a great season and is an outstanding player," Spahn said in a statement. "Gio's talent on the field, and his work off the field to give scholarships to young people through his foundation, are tremendous attributes. My dad would have been proud that Gio has won this award."

Gonzalez took the award over the Rays' David Price because wins are used as a tiebreaker in close competitions. Price, who won in 2010, went 20-5 with 205 strikeouts and a 2.56 ERA.

The Spahn Award is presented at a black-tie gala in Oklahoma City, with the proceeds supporting various charitable causes for children and the underprivileged.

Gio Gonzalez, David Price, Warren Spahn