Clayton Kershaw, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers, #22
Date of Birth: 3/19/1988
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
Nicknames: The Claw, Kid K
Clayton Kershaw, starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a star player in high school before being drafted by the Dodgers in 2006. His high school record was 13 wins to 0 losses, a 0.77 ERA, and 139 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched.
Kershaw spent his first two seasons with the Dodgers in the minor leagues. In 2008, at the age of just 20, he was called up to the majors and he played in 22 games with the Dodgers. His statistics for 2008 include 107.2 innings pitched, 5-5 record, 4.26 ERA, and 100 strikeouts to 52 walks. The next season was better, with Kershaw ending with a 2.79 ERA.
Kershaw had a strong 2011 season. That year, he played in 33 games, pitched 233.1 innings, and had a 21-5 record, 2.28 ERA, and 248 strikeouts to 54 walks. In 2011, he led the National League in strikeouts and he had the lowest ERA in major league baseball. He won the NL Cy Young award, a Gold Glove, and the NL Triple Crown that season. The following season, he again led the major leagues in ERA.
In 2013, Kershaw won his second NL Cy Young award and he again led the National League in strikeouts and major league baseball in ERA. Other awards won by Kershaw in 2013 include the Branch Rickey award, the Roy Campanella award, and the Warren Spahn award.
Kershaw finished the 2013 season with a 1.83 ERA in 33 games with 16 wins to 9 losses and 232 strikeouts to 52 walks. As probably the best pitcher in major league baseball today, he was rewarded after the season ended with a seven-year, $215 million contract extension that makes him the highest paid pitcher.
Kershaw continued to dominate major league baseball in 2014, again winning the NL Cy Young award. He also added the NL MVP award to his honors. He led major league baseball in wins and ERA in 2014 and he did it in just 27 games. He finished the season with a 21-3 record, 239 strikeouts to 31 walks, and a career low ERA of 1.77 in 198.1 innings. The only time he struggled was in the postseason, giving up 12 hits and 11 runs in 12.2 innings in 2 games.
Kershaw marked a couple of major league baseball achievements in 2014. He is the first major league pitcher to win four consecutive ERA titles and he is the first MLB pitcher to win three Cy Young awards before reaching the age of 27.
Kershaw had another outstanding season in 2015. He led major league baseball in strikeouts with 301. It was his sixth consecutive season with 200 or more strikeouts and he tied Sandy Koufax's record for the most 200+ consecutive strikeout seasons in Dodger history. He was the eleventh player in major league history to have over 300 strikeouts in one season and the first pitcher to do it since Randy Johnson in 2002.
Kershaw finished the 2015 season with 16 wins to 7 losses, 301 strikeouts to 42 walks, and a 2.13 ERA in 232.2 innings in 33 games. He pitched 13.2 innings in 2 postseason games and he gave up 7 hits, including 2 home runs, and 4 runs. He had a 2.63 ERA and 19 strikeouts to 5 walks.
In 2016, Kershaw missed the months of July and August with a herniated disc in his back. He pitched in 21 games and once again proved that he is probably the best pitcher in the game today. In 149.0 innings, he had 12 wins to 4 losses, a career low ERA of 1.69, and 172 strikeouts to just 11 walks. In the postseason, he pitched 24.1 innings in 5 games and he gave up 24 hits, including two home runs, and 13 runs. He had a 4.44 ERA and he struck out 29 batters and walked four.
Kershaw had another outstanding season in 2017, finishing with the second lowest ERA in major league baseball. He tied three other pitchers for the most wins in baseball with 18. Only he and Corey Kluber also had just 4 losses. He finished the season with a 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts to 30 walks in 175.0 innings in 27 games.
In the 2017 postseason, Kershaw struggled in the first game of the National League Division series, giving up four home runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was the first time in his career that he gave up that many home runs in a single game. The Dodgers ended up winning the game with a score of 9-5. Kershaw won Game 5 of the NL Championship series, pitching 6.0 innings and giving up 3 hits and 1 run. In that game, he struck out 5 batters and walked one. He had his best postseason outing in Game 1 of the World Series, when he struck out 11 batters and walked none. He gave up 3 hits, including a home run, and one run in 7.0 innings.
Statistics for Kershaw in ten seasons (2008-2017) in the major leagues include:
- 6 seasons with over 30 games played, with a high of 33 in 2011-2013, 2015
- 5 seasons with over 200 innings pitched, with a high of 236.0 in 2013
- 9 seasons with an ERA under 3.00, with a low of 1.69 in 2016
- 9 seasons with over 150 strikeouts, with 7 of those seasons with over 200 strikeouts, with a high of 301 in 2015
Career pitching statistics for Kershaw through 2017 include:
- 292 games played
- 1,935.0 innings pitched
- 144-64 win-loss record
- 2,120 strikeouts to 507 walks
- 2.36 ERA
Kershaw and his wife helped build an ophanage in Zambia in 2011. The following year, they started Kershaw's Challenge, an organization that contributes money to Arise Africa and other charities. More information is available at kershshawschallenge.com.
In 2012, Kershaw won the Roberto Clemente award for his humanitarian work.
Kershaw married his wife Ellen on December 4, 2010. In January, 2012, they wrote and published a book, "Arise: Live Out Your Faith and Dreams on Whatever Field You Find Yourself," on their charitable work.
Kershaw and his wife Ellen had their first child, a daughter, on January 23, 2015.