Stay Healthy, Please: The Clayton Kershaw Thread

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Last night was indeed a marquee match-up for four and two-thirds innings...Posnanski:

In total, Kershaw is on pace to become just the fifth pitcher since Deadball to have a sub-2.00 ERA and FIP. The previous four are all-time seasons:

1946: Hal Newhouser, 1.94 ERA, 1.97 FIP
1963: Sandy Koufax, 1.88 ERA, 1.85 FIP
1968: Bob Gibson, 1.12 ERA, 1.77 FIP
1971: Tom Seaver, 1.76 ERA, 1.93 FIP
2014: Clayton Kershaw, 1.70 ERA, 1.89 FIP

http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/era-fip-and-kershaw/#comments

clemenza, Wednesday, 3 September 2014 22:38 (five years ago) link

Doesn't happen very often, I bet: pitcher having a historically great season up against a team that seems to have a historically anemic offense. Of course, to coin a phrase, baseball is a funny game, so if he doesn't pitch a perfect game, maybe he'll give up six runs instead.

clemenza, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 02:33 (five years ago) link

he takes forever to pitch

Van Horn Street, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 14:44 (five years ago) link

I really don't want to end up as someone who obsesses over WAR, but I'm confused as to why he was 7.8 yesterday, and still 7.8 after an 8-inning start where he gave up 3 hits, 2 walks, and one earned run, and he struck out 8. He did give up a couple of unearned runs. Does WAR penalize for unearned runs? (Which I don't have a major problem with; James always thought runs allowed was more important than earned runs allowed.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 15:31 (five years ago) link

are you sure they've updated the numbers yet?

Van Horn Street, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 15:40 (five years ago) link

They have. Baseball Reference updates each morning sometime around 9:00; if the standing are updated, that means everything has been updated.

clemenza, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 15:42 (five years ago) link

i don't think rWAR distinguishes between earned and unearned runs

k3vin k., Tuesday, 9 September 2014 15:47 (five years ago) link

for pitching, i prefer fWAR altho it's not perfect.

Van Horn Street, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 15:49 (five years ago) link

fangraphs also has daily updates (he got 0.3 yesterday)

had no idea rWAR includes unearned runs though i guess that makes sense

linda cardellini (zachlyon), Tuesday, 9 September 2014 15:53 (five years ago) link

Today, he went up by 0.1 on Baseball Reference. I guess the rest of the league got worse as he sat watching.

clemenza, Wednesday, 10 September 2014 13:07 (five years ago) link

didn't realize hes only given up 33 earned runs and 27 walks all season ¯\(°_0)/¯

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 10 September 2014 14:14 (five years ago) link

19-3 now. take away his horrible start against arizona early in the season and his ERA is 1.38.

LIKE If you are against racism (omar little), Monday, 15 September 2014 05:45 (five years ago) link

If he wins his next start, he'd get to 20 in his 27th start. SweetSpot: "Only one pitcher since 1901 has won 20 games in so few appearances -- Jesse Tannehill of the 1902 Pirates, who went 20-6 in 26 games."

clemenza, Monday, 15 September 2014 13:50 (five years ago) link

wins, feh

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Monday, 15 September 2014 14:09 (five years ago) link

Jeff Weaver won 20 in only 30 starts in 2012. What's really amazing is that he didn't pitch deep into games like Kershaw does -- he only had 188 IP, and I think that's a record. Kershaw is at 185 IP, so the record is safe.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 15 September 2014 14:11 (five years ago) link

sorry, Jered Weaver, not Taco Weaver.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 15 September 2014 14:11 (five years ago) link

wins, feh

I would have thought this would be one instance where wins actually are an accurate measure of excellence, along with everything else.

clemenza, Monday, 15 September 2014 15:10 (five years ago) link

what if he was having the same year, but pitching for the Padres?

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Monday, 15 September 2014 15:31 (five years ago) link

Kershaw's wins:

19-0, 146.2 IP, 87 H, 172/22 K/BB, 0.80 ERA, no cheap wins (though he did only pitch 5 innings in one of them; one run). Craig Kimbrel as a starter, basically, but with fewer strikeouts and better control.

clemenza, Monday, 15 September 2014 15:36 (five years ago) link

what I'm saying is with a lousy offensive team, some of those wins would be NDs or even a loss or two. Which has nothing to do with him.

Pitcher wins are an excellent measure of 19th-century accounting.

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Monday, 15 September 2014 15:38 (five years ago) link

You've picked the most extreme example...sure, in that case he'd probably be 16-6 or something. Which doesn't change the fact that, with Kershaw, his W-L record is an accurate measure of how well he's pitched.

clemenza, Monday, 15 September 2014 15:39 (five years ago) link

except for all the other ones.

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Monday, 15 September 2014 15:45 (five years ago) link

Which doesn't change the fact that, with Kershaw, his W-L record is an accurate measure of how well he's pitched.

Your sentence doesn't follow from mine--I don't think I said the most accurate, just one of many. I mean, I understand what you're saying, but you're using a hypothetical situation (what if he pitched for the Padres) to cast doubt on something we know to be true: Kershaw's 19-3 because he's been phenomenal, not because of run support or any other factor beyond his control. (Not sure what his run support's been, but I'm sure most of it has been superfluous.)

clemenza, Monday, 15 September 2014 15:57 (five years ago) link

NO, HE IS 19-3 IN PART *BECAUSE* HIS TEAM SCORES FREQUENTLY

k bye

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Monday, 15 September 2014 16:20 (five years ago) link

Sorry, I just think that's factually wrong.

The 19 wins:
0 earned runs -- 8 times
1 earned run -- 9 times
2 earned runs -- 2 times

The 3 losses:
3 earned runs -- 2 times
7 earned runs -- 1 time

The 3 no-decisions:
3 earned runs -- 3 times

What you're saying would have a little or a lot of validity with most pitchers. I don't see that it has any validity here. If you can take those games and explain how 19-3 overstates Kershaw's excellence, I'd be interested in hearing that. Unless you're arguing that he should be even better than 19-3--that some of those losses and no-decisions might have been wins--in which case you have a point.

clemenza, Monday, 15 September 2014 17:00 (five years ago) link

Wins have more meaning for pitchers who average more innings per start. At 7.4 IP/start (tops in MLB, I think), Kershaw has a lot more control over the outcome of the game than a 6 IP/game pitcher whose W-L record is more influenced by the quality of his team's bullpen.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 15 September 2014 17:22 (five years ago) link

Also, he has a decent shot at the triple crown (again).

Van Horn Street, Monday, 15 September 2014 17:32 (five years ago) link

With the Cubs crumbling, Kershaw is set to be the first NL player since WWII to win 20 in less than 30, I know wins are dumb and whatnot but that seems significant enough.

Van Horn Street, Friday, 19 September 2014 18:54 (five years ago) link

6-3 Dodgers after one inning in Chicago!

NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 19 September 2014 19:38 (five years ago) link

how did you arrange Edwin's return?

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Friday, 19 September 2014 20:23 (five years ago) link

Ha, Kershaw vs Jackson -- biggest pitching mismatch of the 21st century thus far?

NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 19 September 2014 20:37 (five years ago) link

So that was Kershaw's second-worst outing of the year, maybe?

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Friday, 19 September 2014 21:03 (five years ago) link

I was going to say that, after that back-and-forth from a couple of days ago, he of course goes out today and picks up his first unimpressive win of the year--first time where run support clearly made a difference. It's like he's mocking my most excellent research.

clemenza, Friday, 19 September 2014 23:06 (five years ago) link

his 20th win in his 26th start. ridic.

LIKE If you are against racism (omar little), Friday, 19 September 2014 23:37 (five years ago) link

uhhh Kershaw just destroyed the wins theory today, even clemenza noticed.

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:09 (five years ago) link

cheap wins are a thing, tough losses are a thing (Braves starters demonstrating the hell out of that this year), everybody drop your guns or the kid gets it

Malibu Stasi (WilliamC), Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:24 (five years ago) link

it doesn't prove his mastery of all creation, but it *is* both rare and ridiculous

mookieproof, Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:26 (five years ago) link

In the end isn't every number just made up anyway, makes u think

LIKE If you are against racism (omar little), Saturday, 20 September 2014 05:34 (five years ago) link

Yesterday didn't destroy didn't destroy the wins theory. There was no theory in the first place, just the idea that Kershaw's 19-3 record, in this specific instance, did not exaggerate his excellence. Today, Kershaw's 20-3 record does not exaggerate his excellence.

clemenza, Saturday, 20 September 2014 13:03 (five years ago) link

on his triple he looked like a horse galloping out of a burning barn

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 25 September 2014 04:09 (five years ago) link

We all know W-L records can be misleading, but when people quote run support, do they account for the fact that that can be misleading too? Nine runs were scored for Kershaw while he was the pitcher of record last night, so his average run support will be adjusted accordingly. What that doesn't tell you is that a) seven of those runs were superfluous, and b) the game was still 1-1 going into the bottom of the sixth.

clemenza, Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:12 (five years ago) link

SweetSpot's David Schoenfield, who I think is very good and fairly mainstream: "Let's not make the MVP debate more complicated than it needs to be: Clayton Kershaw is the best, and most valuable, player in the National League. There shouldn't really need to be a debate."

clemenza, Thursday, 25 September 2014 19:38 (five years ago) link

I wouldn't go that far--there's a debate there; LuCroy's been great, Stanton was right there until the injury (perhaps leading), there's McCutchen and Rendon--but I do agree with the middle part of that quote.

clemenza, Thursday, 25 September 2014 19:42 (five years ago) link

McCutchen will def be the focus of the "not enough innings" crowd now, but meh who cares

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 25 September 2014 19:47 (five years ago) link

In those narrative factors ILB hates--that was the first word I learned on ILB: "narrative"--I'd say McCutchen benefits from the admirable-superstar factor, and is hurt by the won-one-already factor. So a wash.

clemenza, Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:12 (five years ago) link

unless he gets 3 hits a day in the remaining games and the Bucs win the Central

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:23 (five years ago) link

i think it's mostly kershaw vs giancarlo now, tho both seem way too unconventional to be frontrunners

linda cardellini (zachlyon), Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:26 (five years ago) link

what's unconventional about Stanton?

Van Horn Street, Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:43 (five years ago) link

Stanton is almost a too-trad candidate, but i think the writers don't want to be perceived as giving him any sort of pity vote, and at 24 they think he can improve on 37hr 105rbi when he's with the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers.

now can we bail on awards and anticipate Kershaw's LDS start?

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:53 (five years ago) link

as it stands it'll probably be Kershaw vs Wainwright.

Van Horn Street, Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:56 (five years ago) link

Clayton Kershaw just became the most productive Dodger in history:

64.8 WAR Kershaw
64.4 WAR Sutton
63.4 WAR Sniderhttps://t.co/thNx6cFPvl

— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 7, 2019

mookieproof, Wednesday, 7 August 2019 15:27 (four months ago) link

This is almost at the level of Babe Ruth hitting the home run for the hospitalized kid on the shamelessly cornball scale, but I got a kick out of it anyway.

https://www.mlb.com/cut4/dodgers-convince-fan-to-keep-playing-baseball

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2019 22:51 (four months ago) link

"Before long, Kershaw will have lost even more fastball velocity. Time wounds all heels, and no one can outrun it forever. For a month, however, Kershaw has turned back the clock. He’s made a simple adjustment that makes batters’ lives harder, and for now that’s enough."

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/what-remains-of-clayton-kershaw/

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 9 August 2019 04:17 (four months ago) link

Passed Koufax in wins last night. 12 seasons each:

Kershaw - 166-71, 2.41, 159 ERA+, 4.27 K/BB, 2.70 FIP, 1.006 WHIP, 3 Cy Youngs
Koufax - 165-87, 2.76, 131 ERA+, 2.93 K/BB, 2.69 FIP, 1.106 WHIP, 3 Cy Youngs

Koufax's Cy Youngs were across both leagues, but the number of extra teams that involved was only a handful.

clemenza, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 16:58 (three months ago) link

Also: big WAR advantage to Kershaw (65 to 53), big postseason advantage to Koufax (only a third as many innings, though).

clemenza, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 17:01 (three months ago) link

kershaw a better hitter, but it's a pretty low bar

mookieproof, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 17:16 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

I don’t think we’ll get anywhere, but I’ll give this another go.

But it's a 'season' that has lasted 12 years (so far) and he literally is not the same kind of pitcher now as he was at the beginning. So, not a season.
― a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius)

Tried to get my head around this and couldn’t. We’re comparing two sets of numbers: Clayton Kershaw, regular-season pitcher, vs. Clayton Kershaw, postseason pitcher. The particulars of how and when they were compiled seem beside the point to me, because it’s the same guy and the same time-frame. Anytime you make a general statement about a guy’s career, you’re talking about that player at many different stages of that career. But you don’t start chopping up the career into smaller segments for the purpose of...I don’t know what the purpose would be. “Willie Mays was a great baseball player”--that’s a general statement that encompasses the 1951 Willie Mays, the MVP of ’54 and ’65, and the barely-hanging-on gate attraction of 1973. The statement stands, though--you don’t need to clarify it any more than that, just like I don’t see any need to start micro-analyzing the statement “Clayton Kershaw has been a mediocre postseason pitcher” (and don’t really get why you’re so invested in doing so).

As for the "pressing" theory, when he threw 8 scoreless against ATL last year in the DS last year, why didn't he press that night?

As I wrote in the same post, I don’t know what’s behind Kershaw’s postseason troubles--the pressing theory is just that, a theory that makes sense to me. It wouldn’t preclude the occasional good or even great outing, though.

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 13:21 (one month ago) link

Kershaw does have some pretty amazing company on one list:

Worst ERA when facing elimination (Min. 20 IP):

Tim Wakefield - 6.75
Clayton Kershaw - 5.77
Roger Clemens - 5.28
Pedro Martinez - 5.17

(Not sure how many innings you're talking about with Clemens and Martinez--I'm guessing Kershaw's logged a few more.)

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/clayton-kershaw-postseason-timeline-breaking-down-playoff-struggles-of-the-dodgers-ace-after-game-5-meltdown/

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 13:30 (one month ago) link

chokers all!

“Clayton Kershaw has been a mediocre postseason pitcher”

Overall, that is a true statement, and I don't think anyone is saying otherwise.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 11 October 2019 16:25 (one month ago) link

and Willie Mays had his best postseason at age 40

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mayswi01.shtml#all_batting_postseason

so hang on for redemption, Clayton.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 11 October 2019 16:29 (one month ago) link

Conversely, I've never once used words like "choker" or "character" as an explanation for any of this--you kind of implied that that's where I was coming from last year, and it's simply not true.

I posted something similar yesterday; assuming he's around for another five or six seasons, I think Kershaw will eventually have a postseason similar to Price's last year (which I loved).

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 16:46 (one month ago) link

no clem, I'm caricaturing the sound of the mob (ie the worst online Dodgers fans). sorry if you thought otherwise.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 11 October 2019 16:47 (one month ago) link

Kershaw 2.0 is definitely a different player than Kershaw 1.0, his curveball is flatter and hangs a bit more in the strike zone. His new pitch (slurvy-slider) doesn't have enough zip, and his fastball is uh...

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/eVm29BOKLxu15gyfIWQfX2B-7EY=/0x0:706x449/1720x0/filters:focal(0x0:706x449):format(webp):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/16341430/image1__29_.png

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 11 October 2019 17:43 (one month ago) link

someone somewhere was noting that his fastball and slider are now only 3mph apart -- throwing a harder fastball seems unlikely, but perhaps slowing down the slider would do enough to upset timing

mookieproof, Friday, 11 October 2019 18:44 (one month ago) link

(xpost) Fair enough.

I read that he's held in such high esteem by his teammates, they were going above and beyond when it came to consoling him.

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 19:09 (one month ago) link

Interesting piece for a couple of days ago:

http://blogs.fangraphs.com/clayton-kershaw-and-the-unfairness-of-narratives/

It falls about halfway on things we've been kicking around here: important metrics that are almost the same for him in the regular- and post-season (strikeout and walk rate), one that's much worse (HR).

It does give credence to the idea that it may be tied in with "the little voice in the back of your head":

That’s the math of the situation; it can’t change the feeling, though, the little voice in the back of your head that says “Hey, are you ready for this?” every time Kershaw pitches in October. And if the voice is in your head, you can be sure it’s in Kershaw’s too, every time he gives up a home run or a chain of singles. Is this all luck? Could it possibly be luck? How can it keep happening to me? Am I tipping my pitches? Pressing too hard? Not pressing hard enough?

Saying that someone might be pressing is, to me, just the flip side of saying clutch-hitting doesn't exist. (Which I agree with, although I'd allow that there are probably very isolated cases of players who do consistently perform well under pressure--an argument for somewhere else.) Sabermetrics doesn't buy clutch-hitting because a) the evidence isn't there, and b) why would it be?--you'd have to believe that athletes have some magical ability to change their abilities at key moments. But I also believe that athletes don't have magical abilities to not fall prey to something very human: that doubt creeps in when you don't succeed a few times in the same situation. It doesn't mean that you don't occasionally succeed--get a big hit, pitch a good game--just that the doubt lingers if you also keep back-stepping, and continues to linger until you definitively close that door, like Price did last year. I don't think Kershaw has done that yet. But I think he will at some point.

clemenza, Sunday, 13 October 2019 18:15 (one month ago) link

Believing in clutchness doesn't have to be tied in to a belief that someone can do it over an extended period of time. Someone can be clutch on a given day, where they do something they might not have done on another day because they were in a different frame of mind or they told themselves definitively, "I am going to do this now and I am not going to take no for an answer." I think that kind of stuff happens all the time.

timellison, Sunday, 13 October 2019 23:06 (one month ago) link


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