Despite missing a significant portion of the 2016 season due to a back injury, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had another historic year. And with that, ESPN’s Buster Olney ranked Kershaw No. 1 on his list of the top-10 starting pitchers in baseball.
Olney also named Kershaw the top starting pitcher prior to this past season. Before going down with the bulging disc, Kershaw was on a historic pace. He led the league in nearly every statistical category in the first half, earning a sixth straight All-Star nod.
Overall on the season Kershaw had a 12-4 record with a 1.69 ERA, 1.80 FIP and 0.73 WHIP while striking out 172 and walking just 11 in 149 innings. His ERA, FIP, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio were all career-bests for the soon-to-be 29-year-old.
Kershaw would have again led the Majors by a large margin, but fell 13 innings pitched short of qualifying for the mark. The time missed also impacted the National League Cy Young voting, which saw Kershaw finish in fifth place.
It was the first time since 2010 that the left-hander did not place in the top-three. After returning from the back injury late in the season, Kershaw quickly rounded into form as the Dodgers pressed ahead for another postseason run.
Kershaw pitched in five postseason games, with the Dodgers winning four of them, including Game 5 of the NL Division Series when the ace entered in the ninth inning to earn a save. Kershaw’s relief appearance came just two days after throwing 110 pitches to help the Dodgers win Game 4.
When healthy Kershaw is not just the best pitcher in baseball, but arguably one the best pitchers of all-time, as his career 2.37 ERA is the best in the live ball era, and his 1.007 ranks second behind only reliever Mariano Rivera during that same span.
Kershaw is joined on Olney’s list by the likes of Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale, who were ranked Nos. 2-4, respectively.