Clayton Kershaw Pitched The Best Season Of His Career, & Probably Won’t Win The NL Cy Young Award
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw is the epitome of tenacity. The best pitcher on Earth has ice running through his veins, yet a heart filled with the most humblest of sentiment. Kershaw wrapped up what was perhaps his most dominant season to date, and he likely won’t win the National League Cy Young Award.

It is possible that the 301-strikeout machine could even end up placing third behind teammate Zack Greinke and Chicago’s Jake Arrieta in the voting this year.

While Arrieta and Greinke both pitched spectacular seasons in their own right, Kershaw’s phenomenal year has been somewhat overlooked because of a slow start to the season — by Kershaw standards.

Coming off of his historical NL MVP campaign, a journey which I will never forget, Kershaw’s postseason struggles did not expunge his regular season accolades.

Beginning in Sydney, Kershaw embarked on one of the most determined seasons by any Dodger which I have ever seen. A shoulder injury sidelined the ace, but that set back only pushed his competitiveness into overdrive.

Kershaw is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever seen. Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Kershaw’s 2014 season was spectacularly beautiful.

His no-hitter was something everyone predicted would eventually happen, but it was nonetheless breathtaking and captivating to watch once it did. With yet another Cy Young in tow and first career MVP Award to boot, Kershaw would undertake perhaps his most challenging inning of his life yet in 2015: fatherhood.

With baby daughter Cali Kershaw and to some extent the St. Louis Cardinals in the back of his mind, Clayton began 2015 with even more intensity and purpose than ever before. It is difficult to improve on near perfection, but that is exactly what the left-hander did this season.

Greinke was finally the pitcher who snapped Kershaw’s four-year ERA title reign, but Kershaw’s 2.13 mark is still his third-best of his career and third-best amongst qualifying starting pitchers in the Majors this season.

Wins and ERA of course do not tell the entirety of the 2015 Kershaw story, one which was six starts and 34.1 innings longer than his MVP year.

At 27 years old, Kershaw is only getting better. His dominance is profoundly apparent in his increased strikeouts per nine innings (0.8 more than 2014) along with only the slightest uptick in walks per nine innings (0.2 more than 2014).

He struck out 33.8 percent of batters faced in 2015. Kershaw somehow managed to hone in on opposing batters with pinpoint accuracy with his devastating slider and absurdly beautiful curveball.

Once Kershaw got ahead with an 0-2 count, opposing batters only mustered nine hits off of him all season (.086 batting average). The supreme southpaw did not tucker out in late innings either, as evident from his four complete games.

Kershaw did not walk a single batter in the eighth or ninth inning the entire season (14.2 innings).

Grant Brisbee of wrote about Kershaw’s epic season, and argued why he should win a fourth Cy Young Award:

When it comes to the best pitcher, though, I’m smitten with Kershaw. His 300 strikeouts, complemented with eerie control, suggest a pitcher who can do whatever he wants. If a pitcher’s one goal is to keep the hitter from hitting the ball hard, Kershaw is doing it better than any pitcher over the last 15 seasons … by keeping the hitter from hitting the ball at all. Here are the last 10 times a pitcher has finished with a Fielding Independent Pitching mark under 2.00 and 200 innings or more:

  1. Clayton Kershaw, 2015 (1.99)
  2. Pedro Martinez, 1999 (1.39)
  3. Dwight Gooden, 1984 (1.69)
  4. Tom Seaver, 1971 (1.93)
  5. Bob Gibson, 1968 (1.77)
  6. Sandy Koufax, 1965 (1.93)
  7. Sandy Koufax, 1963 (1.85)
  8. Hal Newhouser, 1946 (1.97)
  9. Walter Johnson, 1917 (1.98)
  10. Grover Cleveland Alexander, 1917 (1.84)

It was quite fitting that Kershaw was on the mound the night the Dodgers clinched their third consecutive National League West title.

He is the best pitcher of my generation, but even after becoming the first pitcher in 13 years to reach the 300 strikeout threshold, his humility was still in check when he later endorsed Greinke for the 2015 NL Cy Young Award.

There is one more thing we do want, Clayton. We want to see you pitch in the World Series.