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Clayton Kershaw wraps up season with 1.83 ERA

Sep 28, 2013, 12:55 AM EST

Clayton Kershaw Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw blanked the Rockies for six innings Friday to improve to 16-9 on the season and lower his MLB-best ERA to 1.83.

Kershaw is the first to qualify for the ERA title with an ERA under 2.00 since Roger Clemens came in at 1.87 for the Astros in 2005. His mark is the lowest since Pedro Martinez put up a 1.74 for Boston in 2000.

It will be Kershaw’s third straight NL ERA and WHIP titles. He’s also set to lead the league in strikeouts for a second time with 232 in 236 innings. His second Cy Young is pretty much assured, as well.

There’s also a good case for Kershaw being at the heart of the MVP mix, particularly given that there aren’t any dominant hitters in the National League this year. Alas, his modest win total is sure to doom him there. Not only has Kershaw been limited to 16 wins, but the Dodgers are a mere 19-14 in his 33 starts. That’s a .576 winning percentage that’s practically identical to their .575 mark when he doesn’t pitch.

Of course, it’s not Kershaw’s fault that he’s received such terrible run support; the Dodgers have scored a total of 23 runs in those 14 starts of his they didn’t win. But it’s quite a dent in a claim that he’s the NL’s MVP when his team has been just as good when he doesn’t pitch.

It’s really a moot subject anyway. While the statistically inclined will advance cases for starting pitchers in the MVP balloting, the fact is that no NL starter has finished in the top five since Greg Maddux came in third in 1995.

  1. Matthew Pouliot - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    FWIW, 1995 is the year Maddux went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA. Barry Larkin took home the MVP for hitting .319/.394/.492. Dante Bichette came in second with a Coors-fueled .340/.364/.620 line, 40 homers and 128 RBI.

    rWAR has Maddux at 9.6 wins that year, Larkin at 5.9 and Bichette at 1.2. It said Bonds was actually the NL’s top position player (.294/.431/.577 in 144 games, 7.5 WAR). Reggie Sanders, Piazza and Biggio were also right up there with Larkin.

  2. losanginsight - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    This should have be Kershaws 3rd Cy Young year but the writers were enamored with a side show wonder.

    • dan1111 - Sep 28, 2013 at 2:48 AM

      Dickey was much more than a “side show” last year. He led the league in innings and strikeouts (admittedly by razor-thin margins over Kershaw), and pitched five complete games, three of them shutouts. He was second in ERA, not far behind Kershaw.

      I, too, would have picked Kershaw last year, but it was very close. This wasn’t one of those blatantly wrong picks.

      • yahmule - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        I was mildly bummed out to see Kershaw get edged by what will almost certainly turn out to be a career year for Dickey, but nobody said outliers don’t count. That said, it was no Bartolo over Johan kind of robbery.

    • biasedhomer - Sep 28, 2013 at 7:55 AM

      Or it should be Kershaws 1st Cy Young. Halladay and Lee in 2011 had just as strong cases to win it that year.

    • dlhouse18 - Sep 28, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      I wouldn’t agree with that much. It’s a pretty close call and either has a good case. You want to talk about getting robbed of a 3rd Cy Young, talk about Johan Santana in 2005.

  3. janessa31888 - Sep 28, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    Great season, Almost Birthday buddy. Good luck to the Dodgers in the playoffs.

  4. bbk1000 - Sep 28, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    With Javier Vasquez no longer in the mix I’m wondering who Keith Law will support this year?

    • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      Law supported Lincecum that year. He had Vasquez 3rd on his ballot. Also, you dropped your binky.

      • bbk1000 - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        I said supported….not voted # 1.

        He also had Vasquez 2nd, not third, thus the only 3 points that bum received that year.

        Either way it was a bad vote….plus leaving Carpenter off altogether, who should have won the award.

        Law is a boob….

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        Either way it was a bad vote….plus leaving Carpenter off altogether, who should have won the award.

        Regardless of how Law voted wouldn’t have given Carpenter the award. He was 6 pts behind Lincecum, and Law thought Wainwright was the better pitcher anyhow (40 inning difference is huge).

        best fans in the world though, right?

      • bbk1000 - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:48 AM

        Not sure, I’m a Mets fan so I have no dog in this race….but I can be honest. Either Carpenter or Wainwright were the better choice that year….

  5. MyTeamsAllStink - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    it’s scary that he’s only 25.

  6. sabatimus - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    As a stat, pitcher wins should be removed, or at least discounted tremendously when considering MVP or Cy Young. Is a pitcher expected to score runs for his team? No. Can he control what the other 8 (or 9) guys in the order do? No.

    • yahmule - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      What if a guy goes 6-20?

      • Anoesis - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:29 AM

        What if he did? I think that’s the whole point here. What if Kershaw pitched for, say, Miami? The Feesh (tip o’ the cap to OG) have scored 512 runs this year, lowest in the majors. What if Kershaw put up the same stout numbers, but lost games 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, etc.? Or produced quality starts only to see the bullpen give games away? Or, more likely, both?

        The Dodgers certainly contributed to Kershaw’s first half won-loss record of 8-6 by not supporting him very well at times. What if he spent an entire season on a team like the Marlins? With the same stats, yet having a w-l record of something like 12-13 instead of 16-9, would he even get into the conversation? I’d like to think so, but chances are good he wouldn’t win the award.

        And therein lies the problem of using a team stat to rank a pitcher. The pitcher can only keep the other team from scoring runs. His pitching can’t produce runs for his own team. The Cy Young is an award for mostly individual accomplishment (good defense can certainly help those stats). Including the team’s run production, or lack of it, by considering a pitcher’s won-loss record taints the intent of the award.

      • yahmule - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        The Dodgers scored about as few runs for Kershaw as the Marlins would have. In the 14 games he started that the Dodgers lost, they plated 23 runs for him. He also lost a few games because Don Mattingly needed two months to realize Brandon League was a sack of garbage.

        Why weren’t you beating the drum for Cliff Lee to win the Cy Young in 2012?

  7. Anoesis - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Kershaw is this Dodger generation’s Orel Hershiser, the glue that keeps the club together and pointed in the right direction. Early in the season he was the one the guys could rally around while finding their footing.

    Kershaw’s unflappable consistency has been the team’s anchor and a major reason they didn’t fall so far out of contention that they couldn’t come back. He would seem to be pretty much a no-brainer for the Cy Young and, even if not league MVP, is certainly the Dodgers’ most valuable player.

  8. elmo - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Give that man his $200 million.

    • coloradogolfcoupons - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      $200M? Negotiations will probably hit $300/10 years. At 25, and 3 straight seasons that were Real, and Spectacular…he has leverage not seen before by a FA pitcher. The Yanks or Boston would pony up immediately, so the Dodgers are not going to let him walk. Leverage…..

      • elmo - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Last I heard, negotiations stalled at around $210M. But yeah, with his success, the longer it goes, the higher it goes. An NLCS MVP or WS MVP trophy would look pretty good at the negotiating table too.

  9. moogro - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Since value is such a spooky commodity anyway, one could argue that the cold bats when Kershaw pitches are indicative of his players feeling like he’s got the game under control and we don’t have to be so intense for once. He’s that valuable.

    • yahmule - Sep 28, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      Or opposing pitchers being extra fired up for the matchup. Athletes have an instinctive desire to measure themselves against the best.

  10. jimeejohnson - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Kershaw’s gonna be good for years. Dodgers will lock him up for many, if not all, of those. Love this guy.

  11. leeshrink - Sep 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Keyshaw is just a great athlete
    And a nice person
    May he have a great career
    Lee Hersh

  12. fearthehoody - Sep 28, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Hello CY, meet Clayton Kershaw. You’ve met before

    • Anoesis - Sep 28, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      And you’ll see each other again.

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