Dodgers Dugout: Is Clayton Kershaw the greatest Dodger of all time?

Clayton Kershaw
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. The Houston Asterisks are coming to town. Please prepare to boo accordingly.

Clayton Kershaw pitched seven shutout innings on Tuesday against the Angels. It was vintage Kershaw, giving up five hits and walking two while striking out five and putting an end to the Dodgers’ skid.

Afterward on social media, some places were asking, “Is Clayton Kershaw the greatest Dodger of all time?” One poll had 93% of the respondents saying yes.

So is he? Let’s first decide if he is the greatest pitcher in Dodger history. Let’s take a look at some numbers.


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ERA (min. 2,000 IP)

1. Nap Rucker, 2.42
2. Clayton Kershaw, 2.49
3. Sandy Koufax, 2.76
4. Don Drysdale, 2.95
5. Claude Osteen, 3.09
6. Don Sutton, 3.09
7. Orel Hershiser, 3.12
8. Dazzy Vance, 3.17
9. Fernando Valenzuela, 3.31
10. Adonis Terry, 3.42
11. Burleigh Grimes, 3.46
12. Johnny Podres, 3.66
13. Brickyard Kennedy, 3.98

Of course, comparing pitchers from different eras is problematic. Some played when pitchers had a big advantage. Some played when hitters had the advantage. ERA+ takes all the into consideration and allows us to compare pitchers from different times. It works just like OPS+. An ERA+ of 100 means you had a league-average ERA in your career. ERA+ of 110 means 10% better, 90 means 10% worse, etc.


1. Kershaw, 157
2. Koufax, 131
3. Vance, 129
4. Drysdale, 121
5. Rucker, 119
6. Hershiser, 116
7. Sutton, 110
8. Valenzuela, 107
9. Podres, 107
10. Osteen, 106
11. Grimes, 105
12. Kennedy, 102
13. Terry, 102

Kershaw leaps to the top of the list.

Let’s look at a couple of other categories, just listing the top five and where Kershaw ranks.

(walks + hits / IP)

1. Kershaw, 1.004
2. Koufax, 1.106
3. Sutton, 1.123
4. Drysdale, 1.148
5. Rucker, 1.175

Hits per 9IP

1. Koufax, 6.79
2. Kershaw, 6.84
3. Sutton, 7.8
4. Rucker, 7.9
5. Valenzuela, 8.0

Walks per 9 IP


1. Osteen, 2.1
2. Kershaw, 2.20
3. Drysdale, 2.24
4. Sutton, 2.3
5. Vance, 2.5
11. Koufax, 3.2

K’s per 9 IP

1. Kershaw, 9.8
2. Koufax, 9.3
3. Valenzuela, 6.7
4. Drysdale, 6.5
5. Sutton, 6.4

Complete games

1. Kennedy, 280
2. Terry, 255
3. Vance, 213
4. Grimes, 205
5. Rucker, 186
8. Koufax, 137
13. Kershaw, 25


1. Sutton, 52
2. Drysdale, 49
3. Koufax, 40
4. Rucker, 38
5. Osteen, 34
11. Kershaw, 15


1. Kershaw, 76.2
2. Vance, 61.9
3. Drysdale, 61.4
4. Koufax, 53.1
5. Sutton, 50.5

Kershaw has had an amazing career. In the context of the era he has pitched in, he has been more impressive than Koufax in many ways. And really, when you are talking about the greatest pitcher in Dodger history, the only two candidates are Kershaw and Koufax. Kershaw has a better ERA and matches him or is better than him in every ratio stat.

Before those of you who grew up watching Koufax start preparing your unhappy emails to me, keep reading.


Kershaw had the advantage of pitching in an era where starters weren’t expected to complete games. There’s no doubt he has the mentality to complete every game, but that’s not what happens nowadays. So he rarely had to battle at the end of games when he was tiring and his stuff wasn’t as sharp. That helps his ERA and ratios.

Kershaw has made 99 more starts than Koufax but has pitched only 400 more innings. Koufax faced the stress of a close game in the eighth or ninth innings far more than Kershaw. That’s a point in Koufax’s favor. However, Kershaw has faced much deeper batting lineups than Koufax did. Everyone from 1-9 is looking to homer. Koufax pitched in a time where almost every team had a couple of players like Dal Maxvill, who got almost 4,000 plate appearances despite hitting .217/.293/.259 in his career. He had only 109 extra-base hits in his entire career,

If you consider just the regular season, you could pick Kershaw or Koufax as the greatest pitcher. You can make a strong case for either one. However, there is one area we haven’t discussed: the postseason.

Sandy Koufax is the greatest postseason pitcher in history. He pitched in a time where there was no division series, no LCS. It was just the World Series, and this is what he did:

57 innings, 36 hits, 11 walks, 61 strikeouts, seven games started, four complete games, two shutouts, 0.95 ERA.

This is Kershaw, in just the World Series

38.1 innings, 30 hits, 11 walks, 41 strikeouts, six games started, no complete games, no shutouts, 4.46 ERA. He has a 4.10 ERA in 16 division series games. A 4.84 ERA in 14 NLCS games.


For those of you who think I’m bashing Kershaw, that’s not what I am doing at all. He is one of the 20 best pitchers in the history of the game. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and is the greatest pitcher of his generation. He deserves every accolade he can get. He has carried the rotation this season.

It’s just that when you are talking about the greatest Dodger pitcher of all time, Koufax is in the front of the line. Kershaw is right behind him.

And since Kershaw isn’t the greatest Dodger pitcher of all time, he can’t be the greatest Dodger of all time.

Who is the greatest Dodger of all time?

We haven’t had much fun this season. With the recent skid, off-field issues and everything seeming heavier this year for some reason, it’s time to inject some fun back into this newsletter by bringing back something we haven’t done since 2018.

Who is the greatest Dodger of all time? Jackie Robinson? Sandy Koufax? Vin Scully? Clayton Kershaw? Lance Rautzhan? The list is endless. So, I am asking for your help.

I want you to send me your list of the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time. They can be L.A. Dodgers or Brooklyn Dodgers. Managers count, as do general managers, owners and announcers. In short, anyone who has been connected with the Dodgers in some way is eligible. You and the rest of the readers of this newsletter will decide who is the greatest.

So, I need you to email me your list of who you consider to be the 10 greatest. Please list them in order from 1-10. Points will be assigned based on their place in the ballot, with 12 points going to your No. 1 choice, nine points for No. 2, eight points for No. 3, seven points for No. 4, all the way down to one point for No. 10. And please, please, please don’t say “this is just in any order.” Give it some thought. Travel down memory lane and enjoy it.


Voting will remain open through July 15, and we will count down the top 20 vote-getters soon after that. So, send me your list! Sent to and please make sure the subject line says 10 greatest Dodgers.

Worst commissioner ever

I never thought I’d long for the good old days when Bud Selig was commissioner of baseball, but Rob Manfred has caused that to happen. Manfred, the guy who called the World Series trophy just a hunk of metal, said Thursday that he wished he made a better decision regarding the Houston Asterisks’ cheating scandal.

“I’m not sure that I would have approached it with giving players immunity. Once we gave players immunity, it puts you in a box as to what exactly you were going to do in terms of punishment. I might have gone about the investigative process without that grant of immunity and see where it takes us. Starting with, I’m not going to punish anybody, maybe not my best decision ever.”

Great job there, commissioner. “We think you robbed that bank. Just tell us you did and we won’t arrest you, plus you can keep the money,” is always the best strategy.

Shohei Ohtani a Dodger?

It seems everyone on the internet has decided that Shohei Ohtani will be a Dodger next season. Not so fast.

It’s true the Dodgers will be able to offer Ohtani a truckload of money. But so will other teams. Ohtani will sign a record contract this offseason no matter who he signs with. But there’s one thing that seems obvious about Ohtani that people are overlooking: It’s not only about money.


Every team who can afford him will offer Ohtani a record deal. If one team offers Ohtani $600 million, and another offers $650 million, Ohtani is the type of person to pick the lower offer if he thinks he will be happier with that team. It’s all going to come down to his happiness and comfort (and a chance at winning). I would not be surprised, if the Angels continue to play well and especially if they make the postseason, if Ohtani returns there.

Plus, when have the Dodgers, under Friedman, ever shown the desire to break the bank to get one player? They gave Mookie Betts a large contract. Worked out well. And Trevor Bauer. Whoops. The Dodgers may indeed end up with Ohtani, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket yet.

Surprising roster move

The Dodgers designated pitcher Andre Jackson for assignment on Tuesday. It removed Jackson from the 40-man roster, and the Dodgers can trade him or place him on waivers. If no team claims Jackson, then the Dodgers can send him to the minors or release him.

The team needed room on the 40-man roster for pitcher Ryan Brasier, who they signed on June 4. He had a 7.29 ERA in 21 innings with Boston this season and a 4.45 career ERA in 218 innings.

Injury report

10-day IL

3B Max Muncy (hamstring): All signs point to him returning to the lineup as soon as he is eligible, which is tonight.


15-day IL

RHP Phil Bickford (back): He began a rehab assignment in triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, so he is close to returning.

RHP Shelby Miller (neck): Miller went on the IL Wednesday with a stiff neck and will be out about a month.

RHP Noah Syndergaard (blister): It’s possible Syndergaard has pitched his last game for the Dodgers. At the moment there is no timetable for his return.

LHP Julio Urías (left hamstring strain): His next step will be a rehab start with Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday. If all goes well, he’ll start during next weekend’s series against Kansas City.

60-day IL

RHP Walker Buehler (Tommy John surgery). It’s possible he returns at the end of this season but 2024 is more likely.


RHP Tyler Cyr (shoulder). He’ll be out for a few weeks after making two appearances for the Dodgers.

RHP Daniel Hudson (right knee). He began a rehab assignment in triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, so he is close to returning.

SS Gavin Lux (right knee). Lux is out for the season after undergoing ACL surgery in March.

RHP Dustin May (right elbow). The soonest May can return in July 17, but September seems more likely. He hasn’t started throwing yet.

RHP Jimmy Nelson (right elbow inflammation). He began a rehab assignment in triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, so he is close to returning.

RHP Ryan Pepiot (left oblique strain). Pepiot has finally started to throw, but is not ready for a rehab assignment yet.

OF Trayce Thompson (left oblique). Thompson is not eligible to return until sometime in August.

RHP Alex Reyes (right shoulder). Signed before the season after shoulder surgery, Reyes needs another shoulder surgery and is out for the season.

RHP Blake Treinen (right shoulder). Treinen had surgery in the offseason and if he returns this year, it probably won’t be until September.


What Vin Scully meant to me

Last season after Vin Scully died, I asked readers to send in what he meant to them. I ran them the rest of the season and wanted to circle back and run the rest, which will take a few weeks at least. If you wish to contribute (if you sent it to me last season, I still have it, so no need to send again), please email it to and put “Vin Scully” in the subject line.

From Christian Clark of Covina: Growing up and going to games at Dodger Stadium, I’d always bring a glove and binoculars. I needed the binoculars to spot Vin Scully in the press box. In 2014 I was honored as “Veteran of the Game.” As I walked to the first-base line, with my family in attendance at field level, the only thing I could think about was that I could look up into the press box and see Vin clearly, and this time I didn’t need binoculars. He was simply bigger than the players, bigger than the game itself. Like every other memory I’m reading in the Times, Vin Scully was baseball, he was summer. On behalf of me, and my late father who also grew up listening to his voice, thanks Vin.

From Michael Rock of Concord, Calif.: I grew up in Phoenix. This was before the Diamondbacks or the Cardinals. The Suns, who I am still faithful to, were the only game in town. I had family in Los Angeles and they were Dodgers fans. Hungry for sports and no internet, I started listening to Dodgers games on the radio which were broadcast by a local station. Every night while I did my homework, I would listen to the games and listen to Vin Scully. Vin nurtured my love of baseball and the Dodgers. He taught me so much about baseball, the Dodgers, and more importantly, class. If I had describe Vin in one word, it would be class. I can honestly say that I am a better fan and a better person having listened to Vin.

Up next

Friday: Houston (J.P. France, 2-2, 3.42 ERA) at Dodgers (Emmet Sheehan, 0-0, 0.00 ERA), 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Saturday: Houston (Ronel Blanco, 1-0, 4.66 ERA) at Dodgers (Bobby Miller, 3-1, 2.83 ERA), 4:15 p.m., Fox, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Sunday: Houston (Hunter Brown, 6-4, 3.78 ERA) at Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 4-2, 2.92 ERA), 4:10 p.m., ESPN, AM 570, KTNQ 1020



In case you missed it

Plaschke: Give ‘em hell, Dodgers fans. Astros still deserve to be booed for cheating

Hernández: Shohei Ohtani won’t tip his hand, but the Dodgers aren’t afraid to say they’re fans

Scouts sue MLB for age discrimination, claiming the league had a ‘blacklist’

Rob Manfred admits giving Astros immunity in sign-stealing scandal was ‘not my best decision’

Hernández: Clayton Kershaw, once dogged by injuries, has become the most dependable Dodger

Will Angels keep Shohei Ohtani for rest of season? ‘It’s pretty self-explanatory’


Dodgers agree to five-year contracts with stadium workers, ending threat of a strike

And finally

Vin Scully calls every out of Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.