The Dominance of Clayton Kershaw

Yesterday, I saw a nifty little tidbit in my Twitter timeline. It basically sums up the dominance of Clayton Kershaw about as well as any statistic I can think of.

It’s true. Opponents are hitting .189/.220/.288 against Kershaw this year. Kershaw is hitting .194/.237/.194 when he steps up to the plate to do the thing he’s not paid to do. Yes, he gives up a few more extra base hits than he hits himself, but just in terms of getting hits or out avoidance, opposing hitters against Kershaw have been worse than Kershaw against opposing pitchers.

And this is actually a bad year for Kershaw at the plate. Over the last four years, spanning 295 plate appearances, he has hit .202/.245/.231. Over those same four years, opponents have hit .202/.252/.298 against Kershaw.

For four years, Kershaw has posted the same batting average and on base percentage as he’s allowed actual professional hitters to put up against him. Yeah. This guy is ridiculous.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

18 Responses to “The Dominance of Clayton Kershaw”

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  1. Lookin for a Junk Drawer says:

    All of these articles have pretty much doomed Kershaw to injury and subsequent irrelevance.YOU BASTARDS DID THE SAME DAMN THING TO VOTTO!!!

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    • Alec says:

      Dave and Jeff are both huge Mariner fans. Felix is alive, and arguably the most valuable pitcher in the game (when factoring in contract and durability, he is arguably just a bit more valuable than Kershaw – note that I say arguably, just a bit, and factoring in). Dave nicknamed him King when he was 19. I don’t think he’s the problem

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  2. Robin says:

    I wonder how many other pitchers we could say this about. Without looking, certainly Kershaw’s teammate Greinke.

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  3. Robin says:

    Oops. Maybe not. Well, last year’s Greinke.

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  4. triple_r says:

    An awesome tidbit, to be sure, but you might want to fix that “apeparances”.

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  5. Stan says:

    He also has more RBIs than A-Rod. It’s true… look it up.

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  6. Bruce Chen says:

    He also strikes out batters more often (33.3%) than he strikes out (31%).

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  7. Anon says:

    to do the thing he’s not paid to do

    No. Part of his responsibility is batting. His pitching has significantly more value, but that does not mean his batting does not have any value.

    If your opinion is against pitchers hitting, argue for an eight man lineup.

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    • Dan says:

      Thanks for that incredibly valuable correction. I don’t know what we’d do without your pedantry.

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      • Anon says:

        A low value comment critical of another comment’s value, well done.

        Fangraphs usually tries to capture value of players that is easily missed (base running etc.), but its contributors consistently ignore the value of pitcher offense.

        Also, the poor quality of pitcher hitting is often used as a strawman to push for universal DH.

        I don’t see why either of these ideas should draw a sarcastic response.

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    • atoms says:

      While it is literally true that he is receiving compensation for a job that technically involves making plate appearances as a batter in the major leagues, I believe what Dave might reasonably mean is that the amount of his compensation is pretty much entirely tied to his skill and performance as a pitcher.

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    • grandbranyan says:

      The reason he got 215 million dollars is because he is the best pitcher in MLB. Do you really think if he hit like Ben Sheets he would have only got 210 million, or if he hit like Carlos Zambrano he signs for 220 million?

      Do AL pitchers routinely make less money because of the DH?

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  8. Russ Adams says:

    I’d be interested to see if any of the good hitting mediocre pitchers also achieved anything similar, maybe a Carlos Zambrano or something

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    • olethros says:

      Zambrano was quite a bit better than mediocre for a while, I’d bet he did that for a 3-5 year period before the wheels fell off.

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  9. Trev says:

    In 1915 Babe Ruth started 28 games all as a pitcher. In those 28 games (in which he always batted 9th) he hit .362/.424/.662.

    In those same games as a pitcher he allowed a line of .219/.299/.253.

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  10. B says:

    The good hitting pitchers kinda ruin this for me. Mike Hampton did it back to back years in 98 and 99. Carlos Zambrano did it in 2002. Wainwright is even doing it this year too.

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