Dodgers Dugout: The 25 greatest Dodgers of all time, No. 6: Clayton Kershaw
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to No. 6 in our countdown.
The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 6: Clayton Kershaw (78 first-place votes, 29,143 points)
How rich is the Dodgers’ pitching history? So rich that a guy who has won three Cy Young Awards and is considered by many to be the greatest pitcher of his generation is only the sixth-greatest player in team history and third-best pitcher.
Let’s look at some of Clayton Kershaw’s career numbers and where he ranks in MLB history.
ERA: 2.36, first among active pitchers, 24th all-time.
W-L%: 144-64 (69.2%), first among active pitchers, third all-time.
WHIP: 1.002, first among active pitchers, fourth all-time.
Hits per 9 IP: 6.656, first among active pitchers, second all-time.
K’s per 9 IP: 9.861, fifth among active pitchers, eighth all-time.
According to most voters, the only thing keeping them from putting Kershaw at the top of the list is that he has not led the Dodgers to a World Series title. His regular-season numbers are right up there with Sandy Koufax when you put their careers in the context of the era they played, but their postseason numbers aren’t the same at all, and that will have to change if Kershaw is ever to be considered No. 1.
Off the field, Kershaw is active in helping others. He and his wife, Ellen, have an organization, Kershaw’s Challenge, that raises money for different causes each year and encourages others to donate their time or money to help those in need. Major League Baseball has given him the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award for his charitable efforts.
Kershaw’s focus on game day is legendary. If you get a chance to go to a game he is starting, make sure you get there early so you can watch him stretch and warm up his arm. It’s an amazing sight. And his bullpen preparation is always the same, described by former Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis in an ESPN interview thusly: “Three fastballs when I’m standing up. I sit, and three fastballs down the middle. Then three fastballs either side. Three changeups away. Fastball inside. Three curveballs to the middle. Fastball inside. Three sliders to the middle. Then he goes to the stretch position. Two fastballs inside, two fastballs away, two changeups, one fastball inside, two curveballs, one fastball inside, two sliders. Back to the windup, and one fastball inside, one fastball away.”
Finally, my favorite bit of Kershaw trivia: He is the great-nephew of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who discovered Pluto.
Note: I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who sent me their choices for the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I have been counting down the top 25 in points. I’ll get to No. 1 on March 29, the day the season opens. There will continue to be separate newsletters for any news that comes out of spring training.
Next up (on Tuesday) is No. 5, a guy who, while guest-starring on “The Brady Bunch,” caused Greg to go on a massive ego trip.
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