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November 11, 2014 at 10:42 PM

The race for the American League Cy Young award

Seattle Times file photo

Seattle Times file photo

For much of the 2014 season, Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League. The Mariners’ ace was dominant, consistent and vital in the team’s resurgence and 87-75 record.

But will his efforts be rewarded with pitching’s ultimate honor – the Cy Young Award.

Hernandez along with finalists – Corey Kluber of Cleveland and Chris Sale of the White Sox – will find out on Wednesday afternoon.

The winners of the American League and National League Cy Young awards as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will be announced at approximately 3:45 p.m. on the MLB Network.

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While the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is all but assured of winning the award in the NL, the AL race isn’t quite as guaranteed.

Hernandez, who won the award in 2010, was the favorite for most of the season thanks to his unprecedented streak of 16 consecutive starts of allowing two runs or fewer in at least seven innings pitches. The previous record was 13 by Tom Seaver in 1971.

He finished the season with a 15-6 record with a league-leading 2.14 ERA and 0.915 WHIP in a league-high 34 starts

The 2.14 ERA is the lowest by an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 mark in 2000. Hernandez also led the league in opponent batting average (.200) and opponent on-base percentage (.243). He finished second in the league in innings pitched (236.0) and fourth in strikeouts (248).

The numbers seem impeccable and are better than in 2010 when he went 13-12 and led the AL in ERA (2.27), starts (34) and innings pitched (249.2).

However, Kluber’s breakout season and late charge have made him a viable alternative to Hernandez.

Kluber finished with an 18-9 record and 2.44 ERA in 34 starts with three complete games and one shutout. And while Hernandez had a few rocky starts in September, Kluber just kept getting stronger, going 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his final six starts.

In 235 2/3 innings, he struck out 269 batters – second most in the league. Kluber led the American League in advanced metrics like Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) at 2.34 with Hernandez at 2.56 and Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 7.3 compared to Hernandez’s 6.2.

Sale is the longshot to win the award mainly because he missed almost a month of the season with a strained flexor muscle. In 26 starts, Sale was 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 26 starts. In 174 innings pitched, Sale struck out 208 batters and walked 39.

Often times a player of Hernandez’s status and past success has an edge with voters, which are comprised of two BBWAA members from each American League city.

Hernandez has already won the MLB Players’ Choice and The Sporting News awards for top American League pitchers, which are voted on by players around the league.

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