Coming off an impressive season in 2013 that culminated with an NL Cy Young Award, Clayton Kershaw built on his success and greatly surpassed the standard he’s set forth. Kershaw led all pithcers in wins, ERA, ERA+, complete games and WAR.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace was rewarded with a third-career Cy Young Award and his first MVP Award. Adding more historic perspective to Kershaw’s accomplishments, the ERA title was his fourth-straight — a first in baseball history. Whereas Kershaw managed to pitch his way to a historic regular season, he stumbled once again in the postseason against the St. Louis Cardinals.
While the inability to get past the Cardinals put a dent in Kershaw’s legacy that’s still very much a work in progress, he’s still held in high regard by his peers and baseball analysts. With the 2015 season rapidly approaching, MLB Network has released their lists of “Top-10 Players Right Now” at their respective positions based on calculations by The Shredder.
One of their latest rankings focused on starting pitchers, where Kershaw was ranked No. 1 and well ahead of Madison Bumgarner (No. 9), who’s emerged as the largest threat to Kershaw’s informal title of best pitcher of the game.
After the unveiling of Kershaw as the No. 1 pitcher, Hall of Famer John Smoltz marveled at Kershaw’s season and spoke highly of the left-hander:
Let me tell you something, this man gave up seven earned runs in an inning and two-thirds in Arizona. Throw that in the mix and it’s a sick year. His stuff is great, but his makeup and everything about him defines this guy as a great pitcher. He’s got everything.”
Among pitchers who have thrown a minimum of 600 innings since 2011, Kershaw is first in ERA+ (172), FIP (2.41) and opponent OPS (.548). Last season opponents slashed .196/.231/.289, which wasn’t much better than how Kershaw fared with a bat in his hands — .175/.235/.206.
Kershaw was also ranked the No. 1 pitcher by The Shredder in 2014, No. 3 in 2013 and No. 5 in 2012. Although he’s expected to move back to right field, The Shredder recently ranked Yasiel Puig the third-best center fielder behind Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout.
Included below is The Shredder’s complete list, as well as the rankings from Brian Kenny and Smoltz:
|The Shredder||John Smoltz||Brian Kenny|
|1st||Clayton Kershaw||Clayton Kershaw||Clayton Kershaw|
|2nd||Felix Hernandez||Chris Sale||Felix Hernandez|
|3rd||Chris Sale||Madison Bumgarner||Chris Sale|
|4th||Adam Wainwright||Max Scherzer||Max Scherzer|
|5th||Max Scherzer||Felix Hernandez||Adam Wainwright|
|6th||Johnny Cueto||Johnny Cueto||Corey Kluber|
|7th||Corey Kluber||Jon Lester||Johnny Cueto|
|8th||David Price||Adam Wainwright||Yu Darvish|
|9th||Madison Bumgarner||David Price||Jon Lester|
|10th||Jordan Zimmermann||Corey Kluber||Anibal Sanchez|