Another look at Clayton Kershaw

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Few compare to Clayton Kershaw's start, looking at his last two seasons and trying to find others to compare him with

Last time in Part 1 of this look at Clayton Kershaw's career, I reviewed his first 5 years and compared it to other Dodger starts, other pitcher's first five seasons and also looked at it by his age. This time I am looking at it slightly different, comparing his best single seasons against other pitchers, first looking at the Dodgers.

                                                                         
Player                ERA+  WHIP  SO/9 Year Age  W  L W-L%    IP  SO  ERA
Sandy Koufax           190 0.985  8.83 1966  30 27  9 .750 323.0 317 1.73
Sandy Koufax           186 0.928  9.00 1964  28 19  5 .792 223.0 223 1.74
Kevin Brown            167 0.991  8.45 2000  35 13  6 .684 230.0 216 2.58
Clayton Kershaw        163 0.977  9.57 2011  23 21  5 .808 233.1 248 2.28
Sandy Koufax           160 0.855 10.24 1965  29 26  8 .765 335.2 382 2.04
Sandy Koufax           159 0.875  8.86 1963  27 25  5 .833 311.0 306 1.88
Clayton Kershaw        150 1.023  9.05 2012  24 14  9 .609 227.2 229 2.53
Hideo Nomo             149 1.056 11.10 1995  26 13  6 .684 191.1 236 2.54
Sandy Koufax           143 1.036 10.55 1962  26 14  7 .667 184.1 216 2.54
Don Drysdale           139 1.063  8.23 1960  23 15 14 .517 269.0 246 2.84
Fernando Valenzuela    135 1.045  8.42 1981  20 13  7 .650 192.1 180 2.48
Clayton Kershaw        133 1.179  9.34 2010  22 13 10 .565 204.1 212 2.91

The criteria for this chart was a 130 ERA+, 1.20 WHIP and 8 K/9. As you can see only Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw have had multiple seasons with that criteria. And only Kershaw, Fernando Valenzuela and Don Drysdale have had seasons like this under age of 24. The next chart takes a look at all seasons who met that criteria for pitchers 24 and younger.

                                                                             
Player                ERA+  WHIP  SO/9 Year Age  Tm  W  L W-L%    IP  SO  ERA
Dwight Gooden          229 0.965  8.72 1985  20 NYM 24  4 .857 276.2 268 1.53
Vida Blue              183 0.952  8.68 1971  21 OAK 24  8 .750 312.0 301 1.82
Mark Prior             179 1.103 10.43 2003  22 CHC 18  6 .750 211.1 245 2.43
Felix Hernandez        174 1.057  8.36 2010  24 SEA 13 12 .520 249.2 232 2.27
Jake Peavy             171 1.196  9.36 2004  23 SDP 15  6 .714 166.1 173 2.27
Felix Hernandez        171 1.135  8.18 2009  23 SEA 19  5 .792 238.2 217 2.49
Roger Clemens          169 0.969  8.43 1986  23 BOS 24  4 .857 254.0 238 2.48
Tim Lincecum           168 1.172 10.51 2008  24 SFG 18  5 .783 227.0 265 2.62
Kevin Millwood         167 0.996  8.09 1999  24 ATL 18  7 .720 228.0 205 2.68
Herb Score             166 1.167  9.49 1956  23 CLE 20  9 .690 249.1 263 2.53
Brandon Webb           165 1.151  8.57 2003  24 ARI 10  9 .526 180.2 172 2.84
Steve Carlton          164 1.176  8.00 1969  24 STL 17 11 .607 236.1 210 2.17
Clayton Kershaw        163 0.977  9.57 2011  23 LAD 21  5 .808 233.1 248 2.28
Sam McDowell           161 1.136 10.71 1965  22 CLE 17 11 .607 273.0 325 2.18
Roger Clemens          154 1.175  8.18 1987  24 BOS 20  9 .690 281.2 256 2.97
Jose Rijo              151 1.130  8.89 1988  23 CIN 13  8 .619 162.0 160 2.39
Clayton Kershaw        150 1.023  9.05 2012  24 LAD 14  9 .609 227.2 229 2.53
Gary Nolan             147 1.125  8.18 1967  19 CIN 14  8 .636 226.2 206 2.58
Roy Oswalt             144 1.189  8.03 2002  24 HOU 19  9 .679 233.0 208 3.01
David Price            144 1.193  8.11 2010  24 TBR 19  6 .760 208.2 188 2.72
Oliver Perez           143 1.153 10.97 2004  22 PIT 12 10 .545 196.0 239 2.98
Chris Sale             142 1.135  9.00 2012  23 CHW 17  8 .680 192.0 192 3.05
Don Drysdale           139 1.063  8.23 1960  23 LAD 15 14 .517 269.0 246 2.84
Al Downing             138 1.104  8.76 1963  22 NYY 13  5 .722 175.2 171 2.56
Dwight Gooden          137 1.073 11.39 1984  19 NYM 17  9 .654 218.0 276 2.60
Frank Tanana           136 0.988  8.15 1976  22 CAL 19 10 .655 288.1 261 2.43
Fernando Valenzuela    135 1.045  8.42 1981  20 LAD 13  7 .650 192.1 180 2.48
Cole Hamels            135 1.124  8.69 2007  23 PHI 15  5 .750 183.1 177 3.39
Carlos Zambrano        135 1.146  8.14 2005  24 CHC 14  6 .700 223.1 202 3.26
Frank Tanana           135 1.104  9.41 1975  21 CAL 16  9 .640 257.1 269 2.62
Jake Peavy             134 1.044  9.58 2005  24 SDP 13  7 .650 203.0 216 2.88
Jim Maloney            133 1.194  8.92 1964  24 CIN 15 10 .600 216.0 214 2.71
Clayton Kershaw        133 1.179  9.34 2010  22 LAD 13 10 .565 204.1 212 2.91
Javier Vazquez         130 1.077  8.37 2001  24 MON 16 11 .593 223.2 208 3.42

This list looks long but it is only 34 individual seasons in baseball history. Of course looking at this list, there always those names that may cause concern, as high strikeout rates and young pitching arms may not be an ideal combination. Kershaw, Frank Tanana, Jake Peavy, Felix Hernandez, Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens are the only pitchers to have multiple seasons with this ERA+, WHIP and K/9 rate.

                                                                      
Player                ERA+  WHIP  SO/9 Year Age Lg  W  L W-L%  SO  ERA
Dwight Gooden          229 0.965  8.72 1985  20 NL 24  4 .857 268 1.53
Ron Guidry             208 0.946  8.16 1978  27 AL 25  3 .893 248 1.74
Tom Seaver             194 0.946  9.08 1971  26 NL 20 10 .667 289 1.76
Luis Tiant             186 0.871  9.20 1968  27 AL 21  9 .700 264 1.60
Vida Blue              183 0.952  8.68 1971  21 AL 24  8 .750 301 1.82
Johan Santana          182 0.921 10.46 2004  25 AL 20  6 .769 265 2.61
Mark Prior             179 1.103 10.43 2003  22 NL 18  6 .750 245 2.43
Tim Lincecum           171 1.047 10.42 2009  25 NL 15  7 .682 261 2.48
Jake Peavy             171 1.196  9.36 2004  23 NL 15  6 .714 173 2.27
Felix Hernandez        171 1.135  8.18 2009  23 AL 19  5 .792 217 2.49
Roger Clemens          169 0.969  8.43 1986  23 AL 24  4 .857 238 2.48
Tim Lincecum           168 1.172 10.51 2008  24 NL 18  5 .783 265 2.62
Kevin Millwood         167 0.996  8.09 1999  24 NL 18  7 .720 205 2.68
Herb Score             166 1.167  9.49 1956  23 AL 20  9 .690 263 2.53
Brandon Webb           165 1.151  8.57 2003  24 NL 10  9 .526 172 2.84
Steve Carlton          164 1.176  8.00 1969  24 NL 17 11 .607 210 2.17
Clayton Kershaw        163 0.977  9.57 2011  23 NL 21  5 .808 248 2.28
Ben Sheets             162 0.983 10.03 2004  25 NL 12 14 .462 264 2.70
Ubaldo Jimenez         161 1.155  8.69 2010  26 NL 19  8 .704 214 2.88
Sam McDowell           161 1.136 10.71 1965  22 AL 17 11 .607 325 2.18
Juan Guzman            154 1.146  8.22 1992  25 AL 16  5 .762 165 2.64
Roger Clemens          154 1.175  8.18 1987  24 AL 20  9 .690 256 2.97
Bob Gibson             151 1.151  8.01 1962  26 NL 15 13 .536 208 2.85
Jose Rijo              151 1.130  8.89 1988  23 NL 13  8 .619 160 2.39
Clayton Kershaw        150 1.023  9.05 2012  24 NL 14  9 .609 229 2.53
David Price            149 1.100  8.74 2012  26 AL 20  5 .800 205 2.56
Hideo Nomo             149 1.056 11.10 1995  26 NL 13  6 .684 236 2.54
Gary Nolan             147 1.125  8.18 1967  19 NL 14  8 .636 206 2.58
Erik Bedard            146 1.088 10.93 2007  28 AL 13  5 .722 221 3.16
David Cone             145 1.115  8.29 1988  25 NL 20  3 .870 213 2.22
Sonny Siebert          144 0.981  9.11 1965  28 AL 16  8 .667 191 2.43
Roy Oswalt             144 1.189  8.03 2002  24 NL 19  9 .679 208 3.01
David Price            144 1.193  8.11 2010  24 AL 19  6 .760 188 2.72
Oliver Perez           143 1.153 10.97 2004  22 NL 12 10 .545 239 2.98
Tom Seaver             143 1.077  8.76 1970  25 NL 18 12 .600 283 2.82
Chris Sale             142 1.135  9.00 2012  23 AL 17  8 .680 192 3.05
Roger Clemens          141 1.057  9.92 1988  25 AL 18 12 .600 291 2.93
Don Drysdale           139 1.063  8.23 1960  23 NL 15 14 .517 246 2.84
Ian Kennedy            138 1.086  8.03 2011  26 NL 21  4 .840 198 2.88
Al Downing             138 1.104  8.76 1963  22 AL 13  5 .722 171 2.56
Dwight Gooden          137 1.073 11.39 1984  19 NL 17  9 .654 276 2.60
Gio Gonzalez           137 1.129  9.35 2012  26 NL 21  8 .724 207 2.89
Frank Tanana           136 0.988  8.15 1976  22 AL 19 10 .655 261 2.43
Kerry Wood             136 1.194 11.35 2003  26 NL 14 11 .560 266 3.20
Fernando Valenzuela    135 1.045  8.42 1981  20 NL 13  7 .650 180 2.48
Cole Hamels            135 1.124  8.69 2007  23 NL 15  5 .750 177 3.39
Carlos Zambrano        135 1.146  8.14 2005  24 NL 14  6 .700 202 3.26
Frank Tanana           135 1.104  9.41 1975  21 AL 16  9 .640 269 2.62
Jake Peavy             134 1.044  9.58 2005  24 NL 13  7 .650 216 2.88
Jim Maloney            133 1.194  8.92 1964  24 NL 15 10 .600 214 2.71
Clayton Kershaw        133 1.179  9.34 2010  22 NL 13 10 .565 212 2.91
Cole Hamels            133 1.179  9.10 2010  26 NL 12 11 .522 211 3.06
Josh Johnson           133 1.158  8.22 2009  25 NL 15  5 .750 191 3.23
Jered Weaver           132 1.074  9.35 2010  27 AL 13 12 .520 233 3.01
Justin Verlander       131 1.175 10.09 2009  26 AL 19  9 .679 269 3.45
Javier Vazquez         130 1.077  8.37 2001  24 NL 16 11 .593 208 3.42

When I used a pitcher's first five seasons (as opposed to age), another 22 seasons was added to the mix. And while you have your single season of greatness scattered amongst them, you do see HOF like Seaver, Carlton and Gibson. What happens to this list if I was to just use the stat line that Kershaw did the last two seasons (150 ERA+, 1.1 WHIP and 9 K/9).

                                                                        
                  ERA+  WHIP  SO/9 Year Age Lg  W  L W-L%    IP  SO  ERA
Luis Tiant         186 0.871  9.20 1968  27 AL 21  9 .700 258.1 264 1.60
Ben Sheets         162 0.983 10.03 2004  25 NL 12 14 .462 237.0 264 2.70
Tom Seaver         194 0.946  9.08 1971  26 NL 20 10 .667 286.1 289 1.76
Johan Santana      182 0.921 10.46 2004  25 AL 20  6 .769 228.0 265 2.61
Tim Lincecum       171 1.047 10.42 2009  25 NL 15  7 .682 225.1 261 2.48
Clayton Kershaw    163 0.977  9.57 2011  23 NL 21  5 .808 233.1 248 2.28
Clayton Kershaw    150 1.023  9.05 2012  24 NL 14  9 .609 227.2 229 2.53

A couple of more lists, the first shows how Kershaw's last two seasons match up with his current pitching brotherhood.

                                                                        
Player             ERA+  WHIP  SO/9 Year Age Lg  W L W-L%    IP  SO  ERA
Zack Greinke        205 1.073  9.50 2009  25 AL 16 8 .667 229.1 242 2.16
Tim Lincecum        171 1.047 10.42 2009  25 NL 15 7 .682 225.1 261 2.48
Clayton Kershaw     163 0.977  9.57 2011  23 NL 21 5 .808 233.1 248 2.28
Cliff Lee           160 1.027  9.21 2011  32 NL 17 8 .680 232.2 238 2.40
Justin Verlander    158 1.057  9.03 2012  29 AL 17 8 .680 238.1 239 2.64
Clayton Kershaw     150 1.023  9.05 2012  24 NL 14 9 .609 227.2 229 2.53

Those are the only seasons for any pitcher regardless of age or experience that had a 150 ERA+, 1.1 WHIP and 9 K/9 rate from 2008-2012. The last fun one includes a little message to Dodger management, please make sure the next time one of these once in generation pitchers begins his career in Dodger Blue, he stays in Dodger Blue.

                                                                        
Player            ERA+  WHIP  SO/9 Year Age Lg  W  L W-L%    IP  SO  ERA
Pedro Martinez     291 0.737 11.78 2000  28 AL 18  6 .750 217.0 284 1.74
Pedro Martinez     243 0.923 13.20 1999  27 AL 23  4 .852 213.1 313 2.07
Pedro Martinez     219 0.932 11.37 1997  25 NL 17  8 .680 241.1 305 1.90
Pedro Martinez     202 0.923 10.79 2002  30 AL 20  4 .833 199.1 239 2.26
Johan Santana      182 0.921 10.46 2004  25 AL 20  6 .769 228.0 265 2.61
Randy Johnson      176 0.900 10.62 2004  40 NL 16 14 .533 245.2 290 2.60
Clayton Kershaw    163 0.977  9.57 2011  23 NL 21  5 .808 233.1 248 2.28
Ben Sheets         162 0.983 10.03 2004  25 NL 12 14 .462 237.0 264 2.70
Mike Scott         161 0.923 10.00 1986  31 NL 18 10 .643 275.1 306 2.22
Sandy Koufax       160 0.855 10.24 1965  29 NL 26  8 .765 335.2 382 2.04

This list used Kershaw's CY Young Award season (160 ERA+, 1 or less WHIP and 9.5 K/9 rate) as the criteria and reviewed all seasons in baseball history. This concludes the two part series in looking at Clayton Kershaw's first five seasons, here's to another great one in 2013.

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