Kershaw has been on a historic run for a while now. He's won the Major League ERA title in four straight seasons, the longest such run since Sandy Koufax did it in five straight seasons starting in 1962. In 2014, Kershaw outdid even himself, posting a career-best 1.77 ERA, the lowest since Greg Maddux's 1.63 in 1995.
Kerhsaw's missed some time to injury. After pitching against the Diamondbacks in the Opening Series in Australia on March 22, he went onto the disabled list, returning on May 6. Despite the missed time, he still pitched 198 innings, won 21 games and finish third in the league with 239 strikeouts.
As great as Kershaw has been over the last few years, Adam Wainwright nearly matched him on a number of fronts. He may not post the gaudy strikeout totals Kershaw does, but he's been similarly consistent and almost as dominant as the Dodgers' ace.
In 2014, Wainwright put up a 20-9 record with a 2.38 ERA for the NL Central champs, marking the fourth time in his career he's won at least 19 games. He made 32 starts and struck out 179 batters in 227 innings against just 50 walks.
While Kershaw and Wainwright have been the frontrunners in many award races over the last half-decade, Johnny Cueto emerged as a third candidate for the NL honor. Between 2011 and 2013, Cueto posted an impressive 33-16 record and 2.61 ERA. Injuries have been the only thing holding him back from joining the NL elite.
In 2014, Cueto managed to stay healthy, and in doing so put together the type of season Reds fans had been waiting for. He matched Wainwright's 20-9 record and tied Stephen Strasburg with an NL-leading 242 strikeouts. Most impressively, he made 34 starts and led the league with 243 innings pitched.
The winner of the Outstanding Player award will be unveiled on Monday, Nov. 3, when the Players Choice Awards show is televised at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
Click HERE for the complete list of 2014 Players Choice Awards finalists.
The Players Choice Awards on MLB Network, presented by PlayStation, makers of the popular MLB The Show video game franchise, benefit the Major League Baseball Players Trust, the charitable foundation created and run by the players themselves.
The 2014 Players Choice Award winners in all categories will designate charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Since 1992, the Players Trust has contributed more than $3.5 million to charities around the world on behalf of Players Choice Awards winners. For additional information, please visit playerstrust.org.
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