Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw Or Sandy Koufax As the Greatest of All Time?
There is a lot of debate among Dodgers fans of all eras about who the best pitcher in team history is. Who is the greatest Dodger pitcher between Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw?
We can kick things off with Sandy Koufax. When he was at his best, Sandy Koufax was nearly untouchable with his pitch mix. Willie Stargell remarked that attempting to hit Sandy Koufax was like 'trying to drink coffee with a fork'. But before he became the game's top hurler, Koufax had a mediocre first five seasons. During those years, he complied a 54-53 record and 3.94 ERA to go along with a sluggish 9.2 K-BB percentage.
In the early years of his career, Koufax issued 405 walks in 691.2 innings pitched resulting in an awful rate of 10.8 walks per 9 innings. But things turned around big time for Koufax after taking the advice of Dodger catcher Norm Sherry. He advised Koufax to turn down the intensity a bit on the mound, and he would go on to walk just 412 batters in the final 1632 innings of his career.
Koufax would then go on to have an elite career en route to a first-ballot Hall of Fame nod. Correcting issues with his control is one of the biggest reasons for that. He won 165 games and finished with a 2.76 ERA across his storied career. He also added in a 54.5 fWAR and struck out nearly 2400 batters. The second half of his career alone would have earned him a HoF nod.
And then there is Clayton Kershaw. Now 14 seasons into his big league career, Kershaw has complied 2670 strikeouts and a pristine 2.49 ERA. He has all of the awards and accolades that a Dodgers pitcher (or any pitcher) could ever hope for. He won the 2014 MVP Award and has already taken home 3 Cy Young Awards.
Kershaw has won the ERA title 5(!) times in his career and carries a career fWAR of 69.5 across 379 games. And he's not done. His 2022 season is certainly surrounded by questions given the arm injury that drastically sidelined him during the 2021 season.
It was the first time in his career that Kershaw went down with an injury to his arm, which is concerning at his age. But if he is healthy, he almost certainly has a lot more left in the tank. He finished the 2021 season with a 1.019 WHIP and got his strikeout rate back up from the last couple of seasons.
If the Dodgers are able to bring him back healthy, he could easily get up near 3000 strikeouts and 200 career wins. That would be huge.
So who do YOU think is the best? Chances are, there isn't a correct answer.