The left-hander has consistently dominated the rest of the MLB, putting up numbers that should be considered other-worldly for starting pitchers.
Even though he has aged, he remains an effective pitcher.
In 10 starts last season, he posted a 2.16 ERA.
Here are some Clayton Kershaw 2020 curveballs for your timeline pic.twitter.com/93QZHhsDWJ
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) February 12, 2021
He returned to form after his 2019 season, where he posted his first ERA above three since his rookie season.
Now, Kershaw is so good that he is worthy of consideration as one of the besting starting pitchers in MLB history.
However, he just isn’t quite at that point yet.
Here are three reasons that Kershaw is not the greatest pitcher of all-time.
1. Postseason Resumé
An obvious criticism of Kershaw’s career is that his postseason play has not matched his regular seasons.
There is a lot of truth to this.
Over his career, Kershaw has appeared in 37 games during the playoffs and posted a 4.19 ERA.
While this isn’t horrible, it is a far cry from what fans usually expect from him.
However, the 2020 season proved how quickly that perception could change.
In the Dodgers World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Kershaw appeared in two games and posted a 2.31 ERA.
— MLB (@MLB) October 23, 2018
He also helped lead the team to their first world series title in 32 years, helping build his postseason legacy.
This is something that could change in the future, especially as the Dodgers are looking at competing for more World Series titles in the coming years.
2. The Era Kershaw Played
Following the steroid era, the sport went through a pitching renaissance.
Pitchers became starting posting better ERAs as the offensive numbers of the time went down.
Roy Halladay 2003-11:
270 games, 55.0 WAR
Clayton Kershaw 2009-17:
270 games, 56.0 WAR
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) November 8, 2017
Because of this, Kershaw’s wins above replacement (WAR) stat takes a hit compared so some of the other greatest pitchers.
After this season, Kershaw had a WAR of 67.0.
While this is high, it is still well off some other candidates for the greatest pitchers of all-time.
Pedro Martinez, for example, has a career WAR of 84.5 because he posted dominant numbers during an age of juiced offensive statistics.
Another pitcher of that time, Randy Johnson, posted a staggering 110.6 WAR and dominated opposing hitters.
While Kershaw still has a lot of time to build his career WAR, it may be difficult to reach those same levels.
Even though he had dominant numbers during his generation, they may not necessarily be as impressive when compared to the players around him.
3. Kershaw Needs Longevity
For Kershaw, this is both a blessing and a curse.
He has put together a 13-year career of amazing and consistent dominance.
Clayton Kershaw 11 seasons, 30 years old and already has a HOF resume:
62.1 WAR, 52nd all-time, ahead of HOFers Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale
2.39 ERA, 27th-lowest all-time.
1.0046 WHIP, 4th-lowest all-time.
9.8 K/9, 8th-best all-time
2.644 FIP, 39th-lowest all-time
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) October 23, 2018
The numbers that he has posted because of this are impressive, but also aren’t quite at the “GOAT” levels.
He still doesn’t have 3,000 strikeouts or 200-plus wins, both of which are major indicators of a pitcher’s dominance.
However, he still has a lot of time left and can reach those milestones in coming years.
Because of this, while he certainly has a Hall of Fame resumé and the potential to be the GOAT someday, he just isn’t there yet.
Kershaw is, without a doubt, on his way to achieving that if he is able to remain on course for the rest of his career.