Regardless of the league, every generation of sports fans are treated to “once in a lifetime” stars. In this era, NFL fans have QB Tom Brady, Sidney Crosby shines in the NHL and LeBron James is the NBA King. Add Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw to that illustrious list as he has produced at a level that sets him apart from his peers. This CSB Learn2Earn article highlights the career of The Claw.
Who is Clayton Kershaw?
Add Clayton Kershaw to the list of world famous products, which includes Black Gold and Grade-A BBQ beef, from the Great State of Texas. Born on March 19, 1988, in Dallas, by his own admission, Kershaw was “short and fat” and largely off the radar during his Little League career. In fact, during most of his youth, Kershaw wasn't even the best player on the teams he played for. MLB scouts first noticed The Claw while he was attending Highland Park High School in University Park, Texas.
There must be something special in the water of that small Lone Star State suburb as stud Detroit Lions NFL quarterbacks Bobby Layne and Matthew Stafford both attended Highland Park. In fact, some may be surprised to learn that Kershaw was Stafford’s center for one season of high school football. Growing into his long and lanky 6’ 4” 210-pound frame - Kershaw shined on MLB radars after posting a perfect 13-0 record, with 139 strikeouts over just 64 innings pitched, as a Senior.
Clayton Kershaw Minor League and MLB Career Stats
Following that stellar final season of high school hardball, Kershaw had a choice of a scholarship at Texas A & M University or a Major League Baseball contract. Kershaw choose the latter and he was selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Kershaw’s minor league numbers are limited as he started a combined 47 matches for the Arizona League Dodgers, the Great Lakes Loons (Class A) and Jacksonville Suns in the Double-A Southern League. Kershaw posted 296 strikeouts, over 233.1 innings pitched, between 2006 and 2008.
Becoming a full-time member of the Dodgers, Los Angeles bought out Kershaw's minor league contract in 2008 and a pitching legend was born. The Claw made his MLB debut on May 28, 2008, at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. While he received a no-decision in the Dodgers 4-3 (F/10) victory, Kershaw sent notice of things to come as he struck seven (including three in the first frame) and allowed just five hits over six innings. Adjusting to the big stage, during his first three seasons, Kershaw went 26-23 over 83 starts and he struck out 497 batters while logging 482.3 innings.
Amongst many stars, in the shadows of the Hollywood Hills, Kershaw was an absolute beast during a six-season run from 2011 to 2016. The numbers are staggering as "The Krushinator" went 100-37 over 180 starts and racked up 1,421 K's during 1,277 innings on the bump. Equally impressive, Kershaw allowed five hits and a minuscule 1.4 walks per start during that stretch and he won the National League Cy Young Award three times. Kershaw went on the 60-day disabled list in 2016 or his numbers would've been even better. The Dodgers Mound Master was the NL MVP in 2014.
All-Star Pitchers Comparable to The Claw
Despite missing a little over two months, due to a herniated disc in his back, Kershaw was selected as an NL All Star for a six straight season in 2016. The 2006 MLB Amateur Draft has several notable names including All-Star pitchers Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer. Widely recognized as two of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball today, Kershaw (2,041 K over 281 games) and Scherzer (2,026 K over 289 games) have been strikeout aces since they entered the league together in 2008.
Kershaw is often compared to former Los Angeles great Sandy Koufax who was also a six-time All-Star. The numbers are strikingly similar as Koufax also won three Cy Young Awards and was the NL MVP (1963) during a six-year span (1961-1966) of his career. During that fantastic run Koufax went 129-47 and posted 1,713 strikeouts over 1632.3 innings. The one piece missing in the comparison is World Series rings as Koufax helped the Dodgers win the Fall Classic in 1955, '59, '63 and '65.
Naysayers always point to Kershaw's playoff numbers (4-7 and a lofty 4.55 ERA) as a knock on this generational super star. However, that could change in 2017 as Kershaw has a solid shot at his first World Series Championship. At publishing (25/06/17) Los Angeles is second chalk on the Canada Sports Betting MLB Fall Classic futures board - just behind Houston. The Astros have a (+400) ML at SportsInteraction while the Dodgers are currently posted with a (+500) money line price.
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