Clayton Kershaw’s NL West-clinching victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday capped a regular season that saw him put up a 21-3 record with a stunning 1.77 ERA.
By virtue of this performance, Kershaw is now guaranteed to lead the Majors in ERA for a record four consecutive seasons. He posted a 1.83 ERA during his Cy Young Award winning season last year. If Kershaw indeed earns the top NL pitching title again in 2014, it will be the third time in four seasons that he’s won the league’s Cy Young award.
These might be some very sexy accomplishments for Kershaw, but they don’t even begin to scratch the surface.
His 1.77 ERA is the lowest in baseball since Pedro Martinez put up a 1.74 ERA for the Boston Red Sox back in 2000. As it relates to the National League, Kershaw’s feat dates back to 1995 when Greg Maddux tallied a 1.63 ERA for the Atlanta Braves. He’s also the first pitcher in baseball since Maddux in 1994-1995 to put up back-to-back sub 2.00 ERA seasons.
Sandy Koufax, who is considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and obviously the best pitcher in Dodgers’ franchise history, posted one of the greatest single-seasons in the history of the game back in 1966.
That season saw Koufax tally a 27-9 record and 1.73 ERA in 41 starts for a Dodgers team that ended up falling to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
The comparison’s, outside of starts and innings pitched, between Koufax’s 1966 season and what Kershaw has done this year are stunning.
While it’s hard to compare pitchers in different era’s, this just goes to show you how good Kershaw has been.
The soon-to-be three-time NL Cy Young Award winner went at least eight innings in 15 of this 27 starts, including 12 of his last 15 outings. He struck out double-digit batters seven times and allowed less than five hits 10 different times.
In terms of team success, the Dodgers were 23-4 in Kershaw’s 27 regular season starts. For comparison’s sake, the Dodgers were just 68-64 in games that their staff ace didn’t start.
Looking at the splits against good teams, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Kershaw was 7-0 with a 1.54 ERA in 10 starts against teams slated to make the playoffs this year.
This is an indication that Kershaw will be more than up for the task when the Dodgers begin their playoff run next week. Simply put, he’s the one player you want on the mound in crunch time. This has been proven over and over again during the regular season.
At just 26 and long considered the best pitcher in the game, Kershaw has already racked up 98 career wins and 1,435 strikeouts. These are numbers that indicate he could very well be looking at 250-plus wins and 3,000 strikeouts when all is said and done. If Kershaw’s 2014 numbers represent what we will see from him down the road, those numbers are on the low end of the spectrum.
With all due respect to the Felix Hernandez’s of the world, Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. And it’s not even that close. Heck, an argument could be made that he’s the best all-around player in the game.
Good luck to the rest of baseball this October, you are going to need it going up against one of the most dominating pitchers in the modern history of the game.
Photo: Fox Sports