Clayton Kershaw is a throwback pitcher in every way shape and form. He's the ace, the #1 guy, the absolute best. I'm not sure this can be argued at this point. The only thing I hold against Kershaw is something that's not under his control which is the relative weak offense in the NL West. He came into the league with basically two pitches and dominated almost immediately. He had his fastball like every pitcher that ever lived but also had and has this unbelievable curveball that looks like it's going 10 feet over your head and lands right below your thigh. So if Clayton Kershaw never pitched another game (heaven forbid) would you consider one of the greatest to ever grace the mound?
Kershaw just turned 26 years old this month and probably hasn't even peaked yet which is scary. The numbers are ridiculous and speak for themselves. In my opinion and that of most others is that E.R.A. is the best measuring stick when comparing pitchers. Well Clayton has led the Majors in that category the past 3 seasons and hasn't had an E.R.A. higher than 3.00 since his rookie year in 2008. That's incredible in any era let alone this day and age with more teams, better players and some who are medicinally enhanced. Those same three seasons Kershaw also led the league in WHIP each time and won the Cy Young award twice. In 2011 he also won the pitching triple crown. This kid has had a statistical career that 38 year old veterans covet and marvel at.
I mentioned he was a throwback because he predominately uses two pitches, goes at the very least 7 innings a game only because the manager wants to preserve his arm but still goes 8+ at times and has ten complete games with six shut outs over the past 3 seasons. He's also led the league in strike outs twice and wins once in 2011. This is all with the Los Angeles Dodgers who up until a couple of years ago were basically hit less with just a dreadful line up.
I don't know if the people around the organization think he's the best pitcher of all time but they think he is now for sure as they are to pay him more money than any pitcher has ever received with a $215 million contract over the next 7 seasons. This shows that the Dodgers clearly recognize the ultimate value of a guy like Clayton Kershaw and made sure they locked him up at a young age and in his prime years. When Kershaw's contract is up he'll be 33 years old with his best days behind him and the Dodgers will have gotten the best out of him.
It's an absurd amount of money to pay a pitcher or any player in any sport for that matter. But with the way things are set up monetarily in the Majors this can happen. If there is a pitcher worth paying $30 million a year to it's Clayton Kershaw. He still relies on his great mechanics with his 90+ mile an hour fastball and that incredible gravity defying curve that just freezes batters like glaciers. He also mixes in a slider and change up to go along with his great deception as a pitcher. Another thing that gets overlooked by the average fan is his pick off move. The fact that he's a lefty is a great advantage in that aspect. Like Andy Pettite before him, Kershaw has truly mastered the pick off play to first base and rob base runners of their rare appearance on the base paths when facing Kershaw at the plate.
The guy just does it all and there is only evidence to support that he will keep this pace and even get better over the next couple of seasons. The Dodgers made an extremely lucrative move but they did it at the right time and not wait until he's 31 years old like Robinson Cano who signed a 10 year, $240 million deal. He'll be 41 after the Seattle Mariners get through paying him. Kershaw will be 32 and may re-sign him when the time comes. But the important fact is that the Dodgers locked up Kershaw for the absolute prime of his career and will be relieved of his heavy salary after what the franchise hopes is a World Series Title or two.
If you know baseball then when you watch him pitch you know you're witnessing greatness. He's often compared to the legendary Sandy Koufax because he's a lefty and plays for the Dodgers but so have many lefties since Koufax retired from the game in 1966 and none of the them were ever compared to Sandy like Kershaw has been consistently for the past 4+ seasons. So, I know he's only going into is 6th official season in Major League Baseball and it's difficult to rank him on an all time list when there are pitchers in the Hall of Fame who played for 12, 14, 16 years and more. So it's fair to say let's see what happens but if the earth were destroyed tomorrow and I was able to talk baseball in some afterlife, I would tell the masses that Clayton Kershaw was one of the greatest pitchers I had ever seen.