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Clayton Kershaw on verge of third straight ERA title at age 25

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the world and has a terrible taste in beer.
Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the world and has a terrible taste in beer. (USATSI)

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With six shutout innings in his final regular season start on Friday, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw lowered his MLB-leading ERA to 1.83. I guess it's still mathematically possible for someone to beat him out for the ERA crown, but, in reality, it'll never happen. This race is over.

With that in mind, let's take a quick second to review the MLB leaders in ERA -- among pitchers with enough innings to qualify to for the title, obviously -- over the last three seasons:

2013 - Clayton Kershaw
2012 - Clayton Kershaw
2011 - Clayton Kershaw

That's right, Kershaw has led baseball in ERA in each of the last three seasons. The only other pitchers to lead MLB in ERA in three straight years are Lefty Grove (1929-31) and Greg Maddux (1993-95). That's it, that's the list.

Kershaw's dominance extends beyond simple ERA. After all, ERA is just a small piece of the pie. Here's a look at the top five pitchers in various statistical categories from 2011-13.

ERA

  1. Kershaw - 2.21
  2. Jered Weaver - 2.77
  3. Cliff Lee - 2.80
  4. Justin Verlander - 2.83
  5. Madison Bumgarner - 3.12

Yeah, Kershaw's ERA is more than half-a-run lower than the next best pitcher these last three years. Ridiculous.

ERA+

  1. Kershaw - 167
  2. Verlander - 148
  3. Lee - 139
  4. Weaver - 137
  5. Gio Gonzalez - 126

Another easy win for Kershaw. ERA+ takes into account ballpark and things like that. The higher the number, the better it is.

WHIP

  1. Kershaw - 0.971
  2. Weaver - 1.047
  3. Lee - 1.049
  4. Matt Cain - 1.089
  5. Cole Hamels - 1.090

Innings Pitched

  1. James Shields - 705 2/3
  2. Verlander - 701 2/3
  3. Kershaw - 697
  4. Felix Hernandez - 670
  5. R.A. Dickey - 667

Strikeouts

  1. Kershaw - 709
  2. Verlander - 696
  3. Lee - 667
  4. Hernandez - 661
  5. Max Scherzer - 645

WAR

  1. Kershaw - 20.6
  2. Verlander - 20.5
  3. Lee - 20.3
  4. Hamels - 15.7
  5. Weaver - 14.6

Kershaw is 25 years old. He won't turn 26 until March. He'll be a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner in a few weeks and you could make a very strong argument he should be on the verge of his third straight Cy Young.

Kershaw has gone beyond being an exciting young up-and-comer. At 25 years old, he's the best pitcher in the world and on a historic career path. A lot can change in the future, obviously, but few guys are this good, this young.

 
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