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2012 Dodgers Player Profile: Clayton Kershaw, The Sky Is The Limit

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March 25, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Maryvale Baseball Park.  Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
March 25, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Maryvale Baseball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

Our final 2012 Dodgers player profile brings us to the crown jewel of the franchise. Clayton Kershaw last year became the fifth Dodgers starting pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, with a sublime season.

At 23, Kershaw won the National League pitching triple crown, going 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. He was particularly amazing in the second half, allowing 15 earned runs in his final 15 starts, going 13-1 with a 1.22 ERA.

Like Matt Kemp, Kershaw faces the impossible task of trying to repeat a magical season. "It's hard to expect guys to play at that level," manager Don Mattingly said of his dynamic duo earlier in the spring. But if there is anyone that can pull it off, Kershaw is that guy.

Does Kershaw have a ceiling? The man he gets compared to the most doesn't seem to think so.

"No. How do you make up a ceiling? His only ceiling is time," Sandy Koufax said. How long he will play, you don't know. But as far as talent is concerned, no."

Trivia

Kershaw will be the first Dodgers starter to start opening day the year after winning the Cy Young Award since Koufax in 1964.

Contract Status

Kershaw avoided arbitration with a two-year, $19 million contract that will pay him $6 million in 2012. Kershaw will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, and if the Dodgers ever let that happen it's time to get the torches and pitchforks for the new ownership group.

Previous Player Profiles

2011: The Face Of The Franchise

2010: True Ace

Stats

Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP x-FIP tERA
2009 21 171.0 4.79 9.74 2.79 3.08 3.85 3.07
2010 22 204.1 3.57 9.34 2.91 3.12 3.64 3.03
2011 23 233.1 2.08 9.57 2.28 2.47 2.84 2.52
2012 Projections - Age 24 Season


Source
IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP

Bill James 218.0 2.72 9.45 2.72 2.67

Marcel 197.0 2.79 9.41 2.65 2.79

PECOTA 224.0 3.58 8.80 3.13 3.42

ZiPS 226.1 2.55 9.54 2.54 2.74

2012 Outlook

I think Kershaw puts up a sub-3.00 ERA for the fourth year in a row, with a 2.71 ERA in 229 innings and 242 strikeouts.

What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Kershaw's ERA, number of innings pitched, plus anything else you would like to predict.