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The Nationals thought they knew what they were getting in left-hander Gio Gonzalez when they traded four of their best prospects for him last December. But even Johnson and Rizzo conceded his major league-best 21 wins, 2.89 ERA and just 6.727 hits per nine innings exceeded their expectations.

Gonzalez, an All-Star, put together a phenomenal season and helped make the Nationals’ rotation arguably the most formidable in the game. But Dickey is viewed by many as the heavy favorite to win his first Cy Young award after winning 20 games, racking up 230 strikeouts and a 2.73 ERA. Perhaps even more impressive is that throwing a difficult-to-control knuckleball, Dickey had the fourth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the major leagues at 4.259.

Kershaw, the 2011 winner, posted a MLB-best 2.53 ERA in 33 starts. Kershaw also led the NL in walks and hits per innings pitched and allowed a major league fewest 6.720 hits per nine innings.