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Jun 19

Kershaw’s Almost Perfect Game

On Wednesday night, Clayton Kershaw pitched about as well as a human being can pitch.  Kershaw no-hit the Colorado Rockies, striking out 15 in the process while being one Hanley Ramirez throwing error away from the second perfect game in Dodgers’ history.  As it was, it was the 22nd no-hitter in Dodgers’ history, the second for the Dodgers this season, and the first of Kershaw’s career.  Last month, I wrote (here and here) about Josh Beckett’s game in relation to the Dodgers’ franchise.  Well, what about Kershaw’s?

Player Pear WAR 3/yr War 3/yr During Game Score Date
Clayton Kershaw 20.5 16.1 102 06/18/2014

Kershaw is in pretty illustrious company as far as peak bWAR and current bWAR.  His 20.5 is fourth behind Sandy Koufax (various seasons), Nap Rucker, and Dazzy Vance, and his current ranking is third behind Koufax (various seasons) and Vance.  Also, keep in mind that I’m including this season, which is slightly over a 1/3 of the way through, so that current value is sure to rise.

How about Kershaw’s game line?

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP
Kershaw 9 0 0 0 0 15 0 0

I didn’t honestly think anything could top Koufax in ’65, but Kershaw managed to do just that.  His game score of 102 last night was the second highest ever.  It was second only to Kerry Wood’s 105 in 1998 when Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros at the ripe old age of 20.  So, I think we can safely say Kershaw did ok for himself.

Finally, what about the offense Kershaw faced?

Player Date Opponent OPS+ Game Score Adjusted Score
Kershaw 06/18/2014 Colorado Rockies 107 102 109.14

While almost most of the no-hitters in Dodgers history were against subpar hitting teams, Kershaw faced a Rockies team w/ a collective OPS+ of 107.  Ok, that being said, the Rockies are not the same team on the road as they are at home.  At home, as a team the Rockies hit .330/.380/.534 with a sOPS+ (OPS+ split relative to League split) of 151 while on the road they hit .237/.290/.387 with a sOPS+ of 94.  Taking that into consideration, maybe we should update the chart accordingly:

Player Date Opponent sOPS+ Game Score Adjusted Score
Kershaw 06/18/2014 Colorado Rockies 94 102 95.88

95.88 is still good for third in Dodgers’ history, behind only two of Koufax’s no-hitters, but when we account for the stark offensive differences between the Rockies on the road and at home Adjusted Score drops markedly.

Kershaw’s run in recent years has been something pretty special, and while you never know with pitchers, I think in a few years we’re going to look back and discuss Kershaw as the greatest Dodgers starter of them all.  From 2011-13, Kershaw has finished 1st, 2nd, and 1st in the NL Cy Young voting; led the NL in ERA in each; finished 4th, 1st, 1st in bWAR for pitchers; won the Triple Crown in 2011; finished 1st, 1st, and 2nd in H/9; been an NL All Star in each; finished 2nd, 1st, and 1st in ERA+; and finished 2nd in FIP in each.  I could add more.  There’s plenty there.  But that’s putting the cart before the proverbial horse.  For right now, let’s just celebrate one of the greatest games pitched . . . well, ever.

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