On the pitches the best pitcher in baseball has thrown, by one way of measuring it, the worst--and why they didn't hurt him.
An English teacher once gave us a writing assignment: Describe the taste of the best chocolate you ever had, to somebody who has never had chocolate. Without the self-referential crutch (“It tastes like chocolate, but, like, really chocolaty”), how do you convey what makes chocolate good?
We hope you enjoyed Kershaw day, and if you haven't, there are 13 swell articles for you still to enjoy here. Now, I've thought a lot about Clayton Kershaw fun facts in the past week, and I think I've finally settled on my favorite:
Clayton Kershaw has faced some hairy situations and close shaves and okay you get it, this article is about his beard.
There are a lot of angles to cover when you devote an entire day of articles to one person. You’ve got your analytics and your scouting, your infographics and your macro view of micro aspects. Those are all great and good and necessary. What is none of those things is what you’re about to consume. It’s just a classic coming-of-age story.
This is the story of Clayton Kershaw running a two-plus year experiment on his face while we all just pretended not to notice. Well, one man is through pretending. Wake up, sheeple. It's time to pay attention.
Clayton Kershaw is known for his unrelenting training schedule. In past interviews, he admits that he has difficulty taking off two weeks after a season to let his body heal. Kershaw notes that he feels much worse at the end of a training-free break, so he will only let himself stay idle for a week. His reasoning is that his workouts are already a month or more behind minor-league players—whose season ends in early September—as well as those pitchers on the 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs. He's already behind most players, in fact. Therefore, he must not wait any longer; he begins his throwing, lifting, and running offseason regimen almost immediately.
Kershaw’s approach to training also appears reflected in his spring training workload as he returns to his in-season schedule. In any given year, the spring training innings leaders generally consist of those pitchers, like Kershaw, who by personal preference want the work and the routine; and those individuals for whom teams desire a longer look at, or pitchers who are trying to stretch themselves out for a new role. Last year, Alfredo Simon was a good example of the latter. The Reds decided to try Simon as a starting pitcher after he had pitched for several seasons exclusively as a reliever. The club scheduled him for more innings to establish a new routine for him, as well as to evaluate him as he turned over spring training batting orders.
The scouting director who took Kershaw talks about the unusual circumstances that led to the Dodgers drafting a future ace.
Three Cy Youngs in four years, the other a second-place finish. A sub-3 ERA in six straight seasons, sub-2 in the past couple. Five consecutive 200-plus strikeout seasons, and (for a pitcher) exceptional health. This is what you want when picking a pitcher first overall in the draft.
But Kershaw wasn’t first overall. He wasn’t even the first pitcher picked. We all know baseball’s draft is a crapshoot in general, and predicting outcomes for pitchers—and especially high school pitchers—is even harder. But still, it’s jarring to recall that in 2006 Kershaw was the sixth pitcher selected.
PECOTA expects Kershaw to be great once again, but what do the extreme projections, both good and bad ends, foresee?
Clayton Kershaw is, according to the PECOTA projections, supposed to be the best pitcher in baseball this year. This is hardly a surprise. He was the best pitcher in baseball last year. By ERA+, he’s also been the best pitcher in baseball over the last two years, the last three years, the last four years, the last five years, the last six years, the last seven years, and with enough innings to qualify, the seven-year veteran has been the best pitcher in baseball over the last eight years.
The projection is something pretty familiar for Kershaw: A 2.23 ERA, 237 strikeouts in 224 innings, a 19-9 win-loss record—numbers that would give him another Cy Young Award should he be in the running against pretty much anybody other than 2014 Kershaw. The 5.8 WARP would fit right in within 0.3 wins of each of his three best seasons and a small regression from last year’s performance.