Clayton Kershaw: Breaking down his brilliant 2013 season

With help from their enormous ballpark, lots of money, and an incredible past two months on the field, the Los Angeles Dodgers lead Major League Baseball in total attendance per game.

Clayton KershawThat will probably continue to be the case Tuesday night when the spectacular Clayton Kershaw takes the hill against the Chicago Cubs on an evening where fans will take home one of the most unique promotions I’ve seen.

Growing up in San Diego, I am certainly not a Dodger fan, but I am a passionate supporter of all things baseball, so I stand in awe of what the 25-year-old Texan is currently doing.

Kershaw will enter Tuesday night’s start with a 13-7 record, a 1.72 ERA, an 0.86 WHIP and 188 strikeouts. In 198.1 innings this season he has allowed just 38 earned runs, 127 hits and only 43 walks. Kershaw currently ranks third in the NL in wins, first in ERA, first in WHIP and second in strikeouts behind New York Mets star Matt Harvey, who is likely out for the rest of the 2013 season.

Additionally, Kershaw’s WAR of 7.1 is by far the best for any pitcher in baseball. Second place belongs to St. Louis Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright, who checks in at 6.0.

Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968 was the lowest in nearly a century, but in my lifetime, Dwight Gooden’s phenomenal 1985 campaign (as a 20-year-old, no less) is the benchmark. Doc posted a 1.53 ERA that year, winning MLB’s pitching triple crown: wins, ERA and strikeouts. Only nine pitchers have accomplished that feat the past six decades.

Kershaw is on track to do it this year.

The 2011 NL Cy Young Award and Triple Crown winner, who’s now a lock for the 2013 award and also in line for a huge contract, could get seven more starts this season. Should Kershaw throw 49 innings during those outings and allow just four total earned runs, he would push his ERA below Gooden’s mark from 28 years ago.

That will be a tall order, but considering he’ll face the Padres twice, the Cubs, Giants and Rockies in five of those contests, there’s a chance he could do it. Kershaw’s ERA since the All-Star break is a startling 1.17. It is looking like this will be the third consecutive season the lefty tops the NL in ERA.

Some have even begun talking about Kershaw deserving the MVP in addition to Cy Young. The artful Dodger is certainly worthy of consideration.

Justin Verlander won both awards in 2011 when the Tiger captured the AL pitching Triple Crown, and since Miguel Cabrera does not play in the NL, why shouldn’t Kershaw be considered in November? Other than perhaps Paul Goldschmidt — whose team likely won’t be playing October baseball — there is no offensive standout in this year’s NL.

Both awards would likely be Kershaw’s if the 2013 MLB season ended right now.

About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


  1. And the oft-maligned Zack Greinke is not a bad number two either.

    Turning point was night they threw down with the Diamondbacks. Matt Kemp and everyone was upset they didn’t pay back towards Padres, wound up taking it out on a more relevant team and have had unprecedented run since.

  2. I would think that a huge city like LA with no NFL team(s) and good weather would continue to support the Dodgers until the end of the season – is that before or after Thanksgivng, Mr. Military Historian/Corporate journalist? You did get me to look at the baseball standings. I love seeing the ‘Damn Yankees’ next to last, but I wouldn’t put it past them to catch up,

  3. Great piece…now if he could only hit .350 like Greinke…

  4. I love watching Kershaw pitch. He is incredible!

  5. AJ Kaufman says:

    Dodger fans, when they’re not arriving in the 3rd and leaving in the 7th, generally show up…when the team wins. But if you look at the top 10 teams in attendance, half are losing squads (SF, PHI, LAA, Cubs, Minnesota), so people attend games no matter the city, success or cost. Why? MLB provides the best experience at the lowest prices in the safest atmosphere. Other sports see significant attendance drops while MLB, despite all their obstacles, rises.

    Baseball season is actually shorter than NBA and NHL, and MLB playoffs are the shortest of any major sport. I know you were being facetious, but somehow — because baseball is played outside, spans the seasons and suffers from a vicious media agenda against the game — people wrongly think the season is longer than others. It’s only longer in total games played.

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