That’s Baseball: Defeating a Cy Young winner

Yesterday Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers received recognition as the best pitcher in the National League when he was awarded the 2013 CY Young award. It was Kershaw’s second CY Young, interrupted only by a second place finish to R.A. Dickey last season.

Kershaw finished with a 16-9 record for the National League West champion Dodgers but the W/L record barely does the lefty justice. He led the league in ERA (1.83), the lowest for a left-hander since Sandy Koufax posted a 1.73 ERA in 1966 during his final season. Kershaw also led the National League in strikeouts (232) and WHIP (0.915).

In 2013 Clayton Kershaw absolutely dominated Major League Baseball . . . unless his opponent was a little team from San Diego.

The Padres faced Clayton Kershaw 4 times in 2013 and defeated him in 3 of those games. While a 1-3 record against a mediocre team like the Padres tells us something it doesn’t tell us everything. Let’s look at Clayton Kershaw against the National and American leagues and then examine how the Padres did against the Cy Young winner.

Clayton Kershaw

Against ERA BA OBP SLG WHIP BB/9 HR/9
League 1.83 .195 .244 .277 0.915 2.0 0.42
Padres 3.33 .253 .324 .453 1.397 4.1 1.87

Look at those discrepancies across key categories. I’m tempted to say, “Wow. That’s amazing.” but I think I’ll just settle for “That’s baseball.”

The Padres face Clayton Kershaw a few times each season and they have a familiarity with the hurler that other teams are not privy to. Also . . . baseball’s just weird. Three of the HRs the Padres hit against Kershaw in 2013 came in one game back on April 17th when Everth Cabrera, Chris Denorfia, and Kyle Blanks each took him deep before he was pulled after 5 1/3 innings.

What’s the old adage about only being as good as your last game? I suppose we have to mention that the last time Clayton Kershaw faced the Padres in 2013 he dominated them. During that start in late September, Kershaw went 7 innings, struck out 10, and gave up 0 runs on 3 hits.

Eh, That’s Baseball.

Additional advanced statistics found at Fangraphs.

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As an aside

Both the 2013 NL Cy Young winner (Clayton Kershaw) and AL Cy Young winner (Max Scherzer) were drafted by NL West teams back in the first round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur draft.

The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Kershaw 7th and the Arizona Diamondbacks took Scherzer 11th. In between those two pitchers, the San Francisco Giants took Tim Lincecum 10th, who eventually won the National League’s best pitcher award in 2008 and 2009.

Unfortunately for the San Diego Padres they were the best team in an absolutely horrible division during the 2005 season which pushed the club back to the 17th pick of the 2006 draft. They used their selection to take Wake Forest infielder Matt Antonelli.

You know what? That’s baseball.

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I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly outraged by the location of statues around Petco Park. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com

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