Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 3/28/13
Clayton Kershaw was absolutely dominant yet again in 2012 and had it not been for R.A. Dickey‘s amazing season, Kershaw would have back-to-back Cy Young awards.He posted his fourth consecutive sub-3.00 ERA season and kept his walk rate down for the second straight year, helping him post a 1.02 WHIP. The hard-throwing lefty succeeds by inducing weak contact as he has four straight years with a .275 or worse BABIP, which makes him among the best in the league in opponent’s batting average (.208 BAA in last four years).He’s also among the best at inducing swinging strikes (11.0% last year) and induces a lot of pop-ups (career 12.5%), which means batters don’t normally get good wood on his pitches. Add in the fact that his ground-ball rate has risen from 39.4% in 2009 to 46.9% last year and you have a pitcher with virtually no flaws in his game.Well, there might be one flaw; Kershaw’s hip injury last September definitely gave everyone a scare, but he did his best to calm our nerves. Rather than shutting it down for the last three weeks, Kershaw made three final starts pitching 21 innings with 23 K, 10 BB, and a 2-0 record.At a GlanceStrengths: W, QS, L, K, K/9, ERA, WHIPNeutral: BB, BB/9Weaknesses: NonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Clayton Kershaw 2011Likely scenario: Justin Verlander (DET), Stephen Strasburg (WAS), David Price (TB)Worst-case scenario: Hip injury flares up againClayton Kershaw 2013 Fantasy ProjectionPeople talk about Stephen Strasburg as the game’s best young pitcher, but they forget that Kershaw is just four months older than him. The hip injury aside, Kershaw has no flaws in his game and if he can get his walks back down to an elite level we could see a very special season.The Dodgers are poised for a big year and with Kershaw not having to shoulder the entire load (Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett) we could see anther low-2.00 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP and 20+ W season from the man they call The Claw. He’s that good and very worthy of a top 15 pick.
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