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Clayton Kershaw wins 2014 NL MVP award

The left-hander added the biggest individual award of them all to his mantle.

Jeff Gross

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was officially named the 2014 NL MVP on Thursday night. Kershaw beat out fellow finalists Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates to win his first MVP award.

The 25-year-old Kershaw received 18 of the 31 first-place votes to become the first MLB pitcher to be named league MVP since Justin Verlander in 2011 and the first NL pitcher to receive the honor since Bob Gibson all the way back in 1968. After earning the NL Cy Young on Wednesday, Kershaw has now won three Cy Young awards during his seven-year career.

The left-hander finished 2014 with a MLB- and career-best 1.77 ERA, striking out 239 batters and walking only 31 in 198⅓ innings pitched. Kershaw missed roughly six weeks during the early part of the season with a back injury, but returned in early May to dominate NL batters yet again. He allowed more than three earned runs only once in 27 starts.

In his best season yet, Kershaw set career-highs in ERA, FIP, wins, strikeout and walk rate, finishing the season with 7.2 WAR despite throwing under 200 innings for the first time since 2009.

Those numbers were enough for Kershaw to beat out McCutchen, who was vying to be the first back-to-back NL MVP winner since Albert Pujols in 2008 and 2009. McCutchen hit .314/.410/.542 with 25 home runs in 648 plate appearances, but his chances likely took a hit when he spent 16 games on the DL with a rib injury.