They’ve known he was special since the beginning. He was a hard-throwing left-hander with a curve that buckled knees. They started comparing him to Sandy Koufax when he was all of 19.
Now there is more reason for the comparison. Wednesday he matched Koufax with his third Cy Young award.
If, as with any other comparison to Koufax, that is slightly unfair – Koufax won his three when only one award was given out, not one to each league – there seems little doubt now we are witnessing the greatest Dodger of his generation.
Kershaw is that special kind of player parents will tell their children about, whose teammates will boast of having played with.
He just pitched his finest season, going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP, despite missing about six starts while on the disabled list. He went 41 innings without giving up a run, had a stretch of 17 consecutive starts in which he went at least seven innings and allowed no more than three runs and fired a no-hitter that may have been the finest game ever pitched.
A season so dominating, he may well earn the National League most valuable player award Thursday – which would make him the first pitcher to win the award since Bob Gibson in 1968.
And this is the point where we mention Kershaw is still only 26 years old. Koufax did not win his first Cy Young until he was 27.
Kershaw is the complete package. No player is more driven, none more respected in the clubhouse. He works hard, stays out of trouble, picks up annual humanitarian awards, plays excellent defense and even hits a little.
Yeah, sometimes he can be prickly with the media. Yes, he still hasn’t put forth a dominating postseason. And, sure, that beard is not his best grooming move.
But he just put together his fourth consecutive dominant season (72-26, 2.11 ERA, 0.95 WHIP). That’s not exactly in line with Koufax’s final four seasons (97-27/1.86 ERA/0.91), but it’s certainly in the neighborhood.
There is no doubting the comparisons any longer.
We are witnessing greatness, living through a time when every fifth day the Dodgers send out a pitcher capable of doing something incredibly special.