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Kershaw a shoo-in for second NL Cy Young Award

Southpaw dominated hitters en route to his third straight MLB ERA title

LOS ANGELES -- His achievements match up closer to Hall of Famers than contemporaries, so it's no wonder Clayton Kershaw's second National League Cy Young Award is considered a mere formality.

The winner will be revealed Wednesday at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network and

The 25-year-old won his third consecutive MLB ERA title in 2013, posting a 1.83 mark to become the first Dodger to three-peat as ERA champion and first in the game since Greg Maddux in 1993-95.

Kershaw made the All-Star Game for a third consecutive year, led the Major Leagues with a 0.92 WHIP, led the NL with 232 strikeouts, was second with 236 innings, was second with a .195 opponents' batting average and tied for third with 16 wins.

He was the only pitcher in the NL to finish in the top three in wins, ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched.

It's not just raw talent that makes Kershaw special. His intangibles are off the chart, from work ethic and aptitude to character and leadership.

"Kersh is kind of what we're all about," manager Don Mattingly said after Kershaw beat the Phillies in August. "What Kersh has done all year to this point really means nothing. He'll be one of the first guys here tomorrow, blow out a workout and be on track to the next one. He doesn't take a hitter off. Every pitch has a purpose. He wants every out he can get. And he keeps turning the page. Everything in the past is over, and it's about today. He's pretty amazing."

If he wins his second Cy Young in three seasons, Kershaw will become the franchise's first multiple winner since Sandy Koufax (1963, '65, '66), which is fitting because his 1.83 ERA is the best by an NL lefty since Koufax's 1.73 in 1966. It's also the lowest ERA in MLB since Pedro Martinez's 1.74 in 2000, and lowest in the league since Maddux's 1.63 in 1995.

From the Roberto Clemente Award for selfless service to community to the billboards along freeways that underscore his role as the youthful face of the franchise, Kershaw has become an emerging icon.

Ask Kershaw how he feels about his personal performance in 2013 and he remains uncomfortable talking about himself.

"We had a great year as a team," said Kershaw. "[I] had a ton of fun, but I'm not satisfied. It's always tough to end the season with a loss like that. I try not to think like that. But at the end of the day, we lost that game. I'm not dwelling on it, but it does put a damper on the season."

That's Kershaw, still hurting from his final start in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, when the Dodgers were blown out by the Cardinals, 9-0, and Kershaw took the loss.

A second Cy Young Award will only bolster Kershaw's leverage at the negotiating table when talks for a contract extension resume. He's already reportedly rejected a $300 million deal that would amount to a lifetime contract, but would also commit him to the organization for 15 years or longer.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw