Gio Gonzalez wins 2012 Warren Spahn Award

The Warren Spahn Award board of directors announced today that Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals is the 2012 Spahn Award winner.

The Spahn Award is presented annually by the Bricktown Rotary Club of Oklahoma City and the Jim Thorpe Association to the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball based on a pitcher's wins, strikeouts and earned run average. Farmers Insurance is the presenting sponsor of the award, named after the Oklahoman and national Baseball Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, who holds the MLB record of 363 wins as a left-handed pitcher.

Gonzalez, a Florida native, ended the season with 21 wins, 207 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.89.

"I'm honored to even be mentioned in the same breath as Warren Spahn and the past winners of this award. I truly am humbled by this recognition," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is a two-time All-Star and a key component to the Nationals' first division title since moving to Washington, D.C.

Greg Spahn, son of the late Warren Spahn and member of the Spahn Award board of directors, said Gonzalez represents the award well.

"Gio had a great season and is an outstanding player. Gio's talent on the field and his work off the field to give scholarships to young people through his foundation are tremendous attributes. My dad would have been proud that Gio has won this award."

This year's race for the Spahn Award was the closest in the history of the award with the difference being Gonzalez's one additional win over Tampa Bay's David Price. In fact, the two Cy Young contenders tied for the Warren Spahn Award. Because the tiebreaker is most wins, Gonzalez was declared the award winner.

Bill Hickman, chair of the Warren Spahn Award board said it was decided years ago that the most wins would be the tiebreaker because Spahn is the winningest left-handed pitcher in Major League history with 363 wins.

"For the first time in the 14-year history of the Spahn Award, four different lefties have won the award in four consecutive years. This is a testament to the tremendous depth and quality of left-handed pitching we are currently seeing in Major League Baseball."

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won in 2011, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays won in 2010, and CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees won in 2009.

The Spahn Award is presented at a black tie gala in Oklahoma City. Farmers Insurance, the nation's third largest insurer of both personal lines automobile and homeowners insurance, is the presenting sponsor of the award.

Erin Freeman, Farmers chief communications officer, said the company is once again honored to be the presenting sponsor of the Warren Spahn Award.

"Both Warren and Gio are examples of what our company strives for every day--to excel in what we do professionally and to ensure that by giving back to the community we leave this world a little bit better today than it was yesterday," Freeman said. "We look forward to presenting the award to Gio in Oklahoma City in January."

The proceeds from the Warren Spahn Award Gala support various charitable causes for children and the underprivileged such as the Jim Thorpe Association's Red Ribbon Drug Free Awareness campaign for Oklahoma school children, the Oklahoma City Police Athletic League, Lawyers for Children, NewView, Youth Services of Oklahoma County for homeless children and many other youth initiatives.

Past Spahn Award winners include: Clayton Kershaw (2011); David Price (2010); CC Sabathia (2007-2009); Dontrelle Willis (2005); Andy Pettitte (2003); and Randy Johnson (1999-2002).