Clayton Kershaw has been dominant since he took the hill as the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Dodgers two years ago. He’s been the best pitcher in baseball over that time whose name doesn’t start with “V” and rhyme with Schmerlander. He gives the Dodgers the best chance to win every time he steps on the mound.
Career ERA: 2.79
Kershaw has lead the Majors in ERA for the past 2 seasons. He tied for first in WHIP in 2012 and was 2nd in 2011 with 0.98. He’s 2nd in K’s over last two seasons. That’s not just an ace, that is dominance. That’s why he was second in NL Cy Young voting this year, and won the Cy Young in 2011 as a 23 year-old making $500,000.
Dominating lineups are in vogue, and starting pitching can be overlooked. But as we saw in the 2012 playoffs bats go cold. You only have to face Miguel Cabrera once every 9 batters, but every batter has to face Kershaw when he is on the mound. The Dodgers starting pitchers this season exceeded expectations this year, but were in no way dominant enough to carry the Dodgers further. Kershaw is a legit ace, one of a few in baseball, and the Dodgers would be wise to give him the best backup possible to round out the rotation.
Off the mound, Kershaw is as classy as they come. He is only 24, but he behaves like a veteran who has been there before. He won the Roberto Clemente Award this season, the most prestigious off the field award from Major League baseball for sportsmanship and community involvement. As MLB’s statement presenting the award brags:
Clayton Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, founded Kershaw’s Challenge, a charitable organization that encourages people to make a difference by giving back to at-risk children and communities in need. The charity has provided assistance to a variety of organizations, including to its cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” which is helping the Kershaws build and sustain an orphanage for children in Lusaka, Zambia called “Hope’s Home.”
With his standup character and dominating stuff, he’s obviously a fan and team favorite. He is not from LA, and maybe he embraces a quieter lifestyle with his Texas roots. But not everyone has to be in the tabloids to be embraced in LA.
Kershaw is entering the second year of a two-year contract that the Dodgers negotiated in February to avoid arbitration. Kershaw absolutely needs to be in the fold going forward for the Dodgers. From a financial standpoint, he’d be out of line to not see what’s available in free agency. If Kershaw becomes a free agent and signs elsewhere, there are no homegrown options in the Dodgers organization. Kershaw is the organization. He is a Cy Young award winner at the age of 23 and will turn 25 during this Spring Training, and the Dodger’s would be crazy not to lock up number 9 on our countdown.