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Sport Where Kershaw ranks among all-time starters as he turns 30

04:18  20 march  2018
04:18  20 march  2018 Source:   thescore.com

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Clayton Kershaw is being compared to the best pitchers ever, but let's start with the last 25 years. 5. Clayton Kershaw . Yes, he 's this high already. The Dodgers great is on the path to reaching all - time Smoltz did it all. After Tommy John surgery derailed his career as a starter , Smoltz became the best

The best active pitcher in Major League Baseball turned 30 years old Monday.

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He ranks 28th on the all - time list with a 3.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio, tied with Maddux. But his 8.08 ratio this season is 10th best of the modern era, since 1901. The bottom line is that Kershaw ’s name pops up on all sorts of lists that measure diverse pitching skills. Where does he rank among the all - time

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Clayton Kershaw broke into the league as a fresh-faced rookie back in 2008, and has already logged a decade in the majors. Over that time, he's established himself among the game's elite, tossing a no-hitter, winning three Cy Young awards, an MVP, and racking up seven All-Star nominations, while leading the National League in ERA five different times.

Kershaw is a special, once in a generation talent, but when comparing his numbers to other starters prior to their 30th birthday, it's not a stretch to argue he's one of the greatest to ever take the mound.

Cy Young awards

Kershaw won three Cy Young awards over the span of four seasons from 2011-14 - finishing second to R.A. Dickey in 2012.

He was the youngest to ever win the award three times, joining Sandy Koufax as the only Dodgers pitchers to win three. Kershaw hasn't, however, won the award in any of the last three seasons thanks in large part to injuries. He finished third in 2015, fifth in 2016 when he made just 21 starts, and second last year despite throwing only 175 innings.

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Kershaw ranks sixth all - time in wins above replacement (50.0 fWAR) among pitchers through their age-28 season — and There are currently seven qualified starters over the age of 35 in MLB today, so it is safe to say, barring some catastrophic injury, Kershaw still has a lot of baseball ahead of him .

Kershaw enters this season as the second favorite to win the award behind Max Scherzer, who has claimed the last two NL Cy Young's. If he's able to remain healthy, it won't be a shock to see Kershaw receive the honor at least twice more.

RankPitcherCy Young winsAwards before 30
1Roger Clemens73
2Randy Johnson*50
3Steve Carlton*41
3Greg Maddux*44
5Clayton Kershaw33
5Sandy Koufax*32
5Pedro Martinez*33
5Jim Palmer*32
5Tom Seaver*32
5Max Scherzer31

* - denotes Hall of Famer

WAR

Kershaw ranks fifth among all-time starters in WAR prior to their 30th birthday, and had he thrown the absurd amount of innings Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson did in the early 1900's, it's evident he'd rank closer to the top.

While it's difficult to tell what Kershaw would have ultimately done with the near-impossible workload, he was on pace, however, to accumulate a higher WAR than any of those pitchers based on average. Kershaw accrued one WAR per 32.9 innings pitched, while Johnson needed 35 innings. It took Mathewson 42 innings per one WAR. Kershaw's numbers fall more in line with Roger Clemens, who netted one WAR per 32.3 innings.

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Nonetheless, he had a virtually identical quality start percentage to Kershaw at those ages, not to mention 115 complete games and 30 shutouts. This coming offseason, Kershaw will join Saberhagen in an elite fraternity of pitchers to hoist two Cy Young Awards prior to turning 26.

Time comes for all of us, even for Clayton Kershaw , the best pitcher of his generation, the pitcher who finished outside of the top 20 in NL MVP voting only once from 2011 to 2017. Though the lefthander only turned 30 in March, the Kershaw we saw in 2018 was not the Kershaw of previous years, not

RankPITCHERWARIP
1Walter Johnson*99.23474.1
2Christy Mathewson*77.23259.1
3Roger Clemens62.82031
4Bert Blyleven*59.62841.1
5Clayton Kershaw58.81935

Strikeouts

Kershaw cracks the top five in strikeouts among starters and is among the greatest ever at absolutely fooling hitters. His limited workload, once again, prevents him from leading the group, but his 27.9 strikeout percentage stands behind only Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (29.4).

TOTAL STRIKEOUTS

RankPitcherSOK%IP
1Walter Johnson*230517.33474.1
2Sam McDowell228123.72274
3Bert Blyleven*225019.42841.1
4Felix Hernanez214223.22262.1
5Clayton Kershaw212027.91935

STRIKEOUT PERCENTAGE

RankPitcherSOK%IP
1Pedro Martinez*198129.41693
2Clayton Kershaw212027.91935
3Johan Santana158725.41543
4Sandy Koufax*207925.32001.1
5Sam McDowell228123.72274

In seven of Kershaw's 10 seasons, he's struck out at least 200 batters, and whiffed a career-high 301 in 2015 across 232 2/3 innings. After making 30 or more starts in five straight years from 2009-13, injuries have limited him to an average of 27 starts over the last four seasons. While the workload has been decreased, he's posted double-digit strikeouts per nine innings in each of those years.

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21. From 2008 through 2013, Kershaw ranked 86th among 145 qualified starters in ground ball rate, 43.9 percent. This year he ranks fifth, at 56.3 Koufax’s peak lasted six years (the last six of his career), while Kershaw is now in his sixth season as a full- time starter for the Dodgers, so we have a

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Path to Cooperstown

Kershaw's production to date is already close to being good enough to legitimately get him into the Hall of Fame if he were to never pitch another inning. According to JAWS, which measures player's worthiness for Cooperstown when compared to others at the same position, Kershaw has a score of 54.1 - just short of the 61.7 average for Hall of Famers. He's already ahead of Red Faber, Early Wynn, Don Sutton, Mordecai Brown, and Koufax, who are enshrined.

It's no secret pitchers tend to break down into their 30s, and Kershaw has already missed time in each of the last two seasons with injuries. But if he can stay healthy and pitch close to his capabilities, the trajectory will see him finish as one of the - if not the greatest starter in baseball history.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

(Stats courtesy: Baseball Reference)

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