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Kershaw a unanimous choice for NL Cy Young

Joining Koufax as only Dodgers to win three, ace calls it 'overwhelming'
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Clayton Kershaw took his place alongside Sandy Koufax on Wednesday by winning his third National League Cy Young Award, this time by acclamation.

Koufax is the only other Dodgers pitcher with three Cy Youngs, all coming when only one award was presented for both leagues combined.

PHOENIX -- Clayton Kershaw took his place alongside Sandy Koufax on Wednesday by winning his third National League Cy Young Award, this time by acclamation.

Koufax is the only other Dodgers pitcher with three Cy Youngs, all coming when only one award was presented for both leagues combined.

The 26-year-old Kershaw is the youngest three-time winner in history and is turning this into a virtual offseason ritual. He won the honor in three of the last four seasons, with a runner-up finish to R.A. Dickey in 2012.

Kershaw's election was unanimous by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, getting all 30 first-place votes for a total of 210 points. Kershaw said his historic season is still sinking in.

"I sit back and try to think about where I was five years ago, six years ago, I was just starting out and if you told me I'd be in that kind of company, I'd laugh at you," he said. "I just wanted to make it. Obviously it's something that's overwhelming. I don't know why I get to sit here for these type of things. It's really special for me. I don't know how to wrap my head around it."

Video: Kershaw takes home the 2014 NL Cy Young Award

The Reds' Johnny Cueto finished second with 112 points (23 second-place votes, six third-place votes and a fourth-place nod), and the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright came in third with 97 points (seven second-place and 23 third-place votes). Two voters from 15 NL cities selected a first- through fifth-place candidate, to which a 7-4-3-2-1 point system was then applied.

The last unanimous Cy Young winner was Justin Verlander of the Tigers in 2011, when he also won the American League MVP Award, and we'll find out Thursday if Kershaw duplicates that parlay.

"I can't really fathom it happening," Kershaw said of the potential double. "It's such an amazing honor to be associated with the guys that have done that in the past. I can't even describe what that would be like."

The last pitcher in the NL to do that was Bob Gibson in 1968. Koufax and Don Newcombe are the only Dodgers to win the Cy Young and MVP.

Video: Castrovince on Kershaw winning third Cy Young Award

The last NL pitcher to unanimously win the Cy Young Award was Roy Halladay in 2010. Orel Hershiser in 1988 was the last Dodger with a unanimous Cy Young and Koufax did it all three times he won the award.

The only pitchers with more Cy Youngs than Kershaw are Roger Clemens (seven), Randy Johnson (five), and Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux (four each). Besides Koufax, others with three are Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver.

Combining Dodgers Cy Young winners on both coasts, they now have 12, five more than any other club.

Kershaw has already accumulated a handful of awards this offseason. He won Players Choice awards (voted by his peers) for Major League Player of the Year, National League Outstanding Pitcher and Marvin Miller Man of the Year. He was named winner of the Warren Spahn Award for best left-handed pitcher in baseball. He won the Dodgers' Roy Campanella Award and was the club nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

But his two playoff losses to the Cardinals this year, after one last year, still sting.

"I try to separate the two. It's not easy, obviously," he said. "Winning the Cy Young Award you never take for granted or take anything away from that. But personally, I didn't pitch well enough to win those [playoff] games, and ultimately that's why we play the game, to win the World Series. I try not to take away from this award, but at the same time I think winning the World Series is always in the forefront of my mind, always the goal every year."

Video: SF@LAD: Kershaw leads Dodgers to division title

He said he wasn't sure if he felt better or worse that the Dodgers finished ahead of the eventual World Series-winning Giants.

"On paper, I definitely think our team can compete, during the regular season we proved that, but it's a different animal in October," he said. "They won and we didn't. I don't think it's fair to say we're a better team. Obviously, we didn't win."

Kershaw this year became the first pitcher to win four consecutive MLB ERA titles, posting a career-best 1.77 ERA and leading the Majors with a career high-tying 21 wins (also 2011). His .875 winning percentage (21-3) also topped the Majors and was the second-highest mark by a Dodgers player (minimum 20 starts) behind only Preacher Roe (22-3, 1951).

He was selected to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game and also led the Majors with a 0.86 WHIP and six complete games, while ranking among the NL leaders in strikeouts (239, third), opponents' batting average (.196, second), shutouts (two, tied for third) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.71). The Dodgers went 23-4 in his 27 starts.

Kershaw's 1.77 ERA is the lowest mark by an MLB starter since Martinez posted a 1.74 ERA with Boston in 2000 and the lowest ERA for a National Leaguer since Maddux's 1.63 mark with Atlanta in 1995. It's the lowest mark by a pitcher with at least 220 innings since Dwight Gooden's 1.53 ERA in 1985 with the Mets and the fourth-lowest single-season ERA by an NL lefty in the live-ball era (best since Koufax, 1.73 ERA in 1966).

Koufax is the only other Los Angeles Dodger to record a sub-2.00 ERA season, doing so three times: 1963 (1.88 ERA), 1964 (1.74 ERA) and 1966.

Video: LAD@MIL: Kershaw dominates the Brewers over eight

Kershaw's career-best 11-game winning streak from June 2-Aug. 10 was the longest run in the Majors this year, during which he went 11-0 with a 1.16 ERA (13 earned runs in 101 innings) with five complete games (two shutouts) in 13 starts.

During the streak, he limited opposing hitters to a .178 batting average (62-for-349), with 117 strikeouts against only 12 walks. Kershaw was selected as the NL Pitcher of the Month in June (6-0, 0.82 ERA) and July (4-0, 1.07).

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw