Clayton Kershaw has been the definition of excellence since he came into the league with the Dodgers in 2008. Say what you will about his consistent lackluster performances in the postseason, Kershaw still remains amongst the most dominant pitchers of all-time and a top-three starting pitcher in the Modern Era.
Kershaw, now 31 years old, has yet to win a World Series with the Dodgers even though he has made two appearances in the Fall Classic. His regular season performances have been amongst the best ever, marked by a 1.77 ERA campaign that won him the NL MVP in 2014 and a 1.83 ERA campaign in 2013 that probably should have won him at least a Cy Young award.
In a recent column by David Schoenfield of ESPN, Kershaw makes the all-decade team of the 2010s as one of the best five starting pitchers.
One all-decade team is boring. Let’s compare the 2010 squad to every all-decade team since 1900. https://t.co/mmJmH6c9jK
— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) December 27, 2019
Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, and Chris Sale round out ESPN’s starting pitcher list of the decade.
Kershaw By the Numbers
Across the decade, Kershaw posted a 164 ERA+, easily the best mark amongst qualified starters over that span. The Dodgers long time ace pitched to the tune of a 2.31 ERA from 2010 to 2019, striking out 2,179 batters across 1,996 innings of work. He led the league in earned run average for five seasons, including four straight from 2011 to 2014 as well as in 2017. In his prime, which was from about 2011 to 2017, Kershaw posted an elite 2.10 ERA.
Moreover, he earned eight All-Star berths, won three Cy Young awards, and finished top-five in voting in seven of his twelve seasons in the big leagues.
While Kershaw’s ability might be on the decline, he’s still getting it done. Even with a 90 mile per hour fastball he posted a 3.03 ERA in 2019. Kershaw has entirely reinvented himself over the past two seasons to counteract his diminishing velocity and it has worked. Expecting him to be more of a number-two starter going forward might be more accurate, but that is very valuable.
With Kershaw’s best days behind him, it almost seems as if a majority of fans have taken his superstardom for granted — me included. What we would give to see vintage Kershaw throw 97 miles per hour again in the NLDS. Still, he was the absolute best by the numbers in the 2010s, and this distinction from ESPN was well earned.