Johan Santana is being honored with the Warren Spahn Award for his performance in '04. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP)
The award season isn't quite upon us yet, but Johan Santana is already earning some hardware.
It was announced Friday that Santana will be the recipient of the annual Warren Spahn Award for being Major League Baseball's best left-handed pitcher.
The award, presented by the Oklahoma Sports Museum of Guthrie, Okla., honors the legacy of native son Warren Spahn. The former Braves great won 363 games in his 21-year career, the most ever for a left-handed pitcher. Spahn died in 2003.
Santana posted a 20-6 record in 2004 while leading the American League with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts. No pitcher in the league held opponents to a lower batting average (.192) or walk/hits per innings pitched (0.92).
The 25-year-old southpaw from Venezuela, the first foreign-born winner of the Spahn Award, was 18-2 with a 1.36 ERA over his last 22 starts and 13-0 since the All-Star break.
The Spahn Award was started in 1999 and has honored Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson four times. Former Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte earned the honor in 2003. Santana edged Johnson for this year's award.
"The award allows the OSM to remind fans of Spahn's Hall of Fame accomplishments," OSM president and director Richard Hendricks said in a statement. "This year's winner is considered the best young pitcher in the game. Santana is fearless in going right at some of the best hitters in the game, a reminder of how Warren Spahn also pitched some dominant ball in his day."
Santana is scheduled to receive a bronze statue of Spahn during a January awards ceremony in Oklahoma.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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