MLB Notebook: Kershaw on historic pace
Lefty having kind of year that would match top seasons of game's legends
The statistical line for Walter Johnson's 1913 season -- whether viewed in the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia or on baseball-reference.com -- contains an uncommon amount of bolded numbers. Those bolded numerals, of course, indicate league leadership, and they offer one way to admire what was one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history.
Among other categories, Johnson -- pitching in his age-25 season -- led the American League with a 0.780 WHIP, 1.14 ERA and 243 strikeouts. Since Johnson, only two other pitchers in their age-25 seasons -- Lefty Gomez in 1934 and Johan Santana in 2004 -- have led their respective leagues in those three categories.
Appropriately enough, for the 100th anniversary of Johnson's spectacular year, we could be witnessing another one of those seasons that stand out -- both literally (in terms of the bolding) and figuratively -- from almost all the rest.
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, now in his age-25 season, allowed three hits and a walk in eight scoreless innings Saturday and picked up his 12th win, as the Dodgers blanked the Phillies, 5-0. Kershaw is tops the National League in WHIP, ERA and K's, among other categories.
With Saturday's win, Kershaw lowered his WHIP to 0.851, dropped his ERA to 1.80 and lowered his hits-per-nine to 5.77. All of these marks are the best in the NL, adding to Kershaw's league-leading numbers in strikeouts, innings, shutouts, and ERA+.
Kershaw's 0.851 WHIP would be the 11th lowest since 1893, and the fourth lowest in the live-ball era, behind only Pedro Martinez's 0.737 in 2000, Greg Maddux's 0.811 in 1995 and Dave McNally's 0.842 in '68.
Kershaw would be the 36th pitcher since 1893 to finish a year with a 198 ERA+ or better. He would be the sixth left-hander, joining Dutch Leonard (282 in 1914), Lefty Grove (217 in '31), Jack Pfiester (216 in 1907), Ron Guidry (208 in '78) and Billy Pierce (200 in '55).
Between 1969 and 2012, five NL pitchers (all right-handers) finished a season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and an ERA at or below 1.80. Dwight Gooden had the lowest with a 1.53 mark in 1985. Maddux, with a 1.63 ERA in 1995, was the most recent NL pitcher to accomplish the feat.
Kershaw's 5.77 hits per nine would tie him for the 10th lowest mark since 1893. Nolan Ryan's 5.26 in 1972 was the lowest, and Martinez's 5.31 in 2000 was the most recent.
Put all together, Kershaw could join Martinez in 2000 as the only qualifying pitchers since 1893 to finish a season with a WHIP at or below 0.860, an ERA at or below 1.80 and a hits-per-nine at or below 5.80.
No dog days for the Dodgers
The Dodgers' victory ran their winning streak to 10 games and improved their mark to 42-8 in their past 50 contests.
According to the Dodgers' media notes (via Elias), the most recent team before the 2013 Dodgers to produce 42 (or more) wins in a 50-game stretch was the 1942 Cardinals. The '42 Redbirds closed out the season on a 42-8 run to overtake the Brooklyn Dodgers and claim the NL pennant.
The Dodgers' 10-game winning streak is the club's longest since winning 11 in a row in 2006, and it improved the club's record in August to 15-1, for a .938 winning percentage. No team since 1916 has finished an August with a winning percentage that high, with the top mark (not counting the strike-shortened '94 season) coming from the '36 Giants, who were 24-3 (.889). The Dodgers have 13 games remaining on their August schedule.
Los Angeles has posted back-to-back shutouts vs. Philadelphia, giving the club a total of 16 on the season (most in the NL). The Dodgers most recently had consecutive shutouts against the Phillies in 1983. The 16 through 122 games are the most in the Majors since the 2010 Mets had 18.
Lackey enjoying career rebirth
John Lackey allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings and picked up his eighth win, as the Red Sox defeated the Yankees, 6-1.
Lackey, who finished third in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2007, has a 3.22 ERA (his lowest since a 3.01 mark in '07) and a 1.224 WHIP (his lowest since '07). He's also allowing 8.96 hits per-nine (his lowest mark since '08) and averaging 7.99 strikeouts per-nine (highest rate since '05) and 3.88 strikeouts for every one walk (a career best).
Venable stays hot
Will Venable had one double among his four hits, and the Padres defeated the Mets, 8-2.
Venable owns a .368/.406/.653 line since the All-Star break. Among all MLB players with at least 100 plate appearances in the second half, Venable is tied for third in batting, is second in slugging and is fourth in OPS. The Nationals' Jayson Werth owns the top marks in all three categories.
Here and there
• Third baseman Pedro Alvarez became the fifth Pirates player with 30-plus homers in consecutive seasons. Alvarez -- the co-leader in homers in the NL -- joined Ralph Kiner (six straight), Willie Stargell (four), Brian Giles (four) and Jason Bay (two).
• Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt hit his 30th homer to tie Alvarez for the league lead. Goldschmidt also drove in three runs and leads the NL with 96 RBIs. Since Willie McCovey turned the trick in 1968 and '69, five other first basemen have led the NL in homers and RBIs in a season: Albert Pujols (2010), Ryan Howard ('06, '08), Mark McGwire (1999) and Andres Galarraga ('96).
• Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off home run as part of a two-hit night, giving the Tigers a 6-5 win over the Royals. Cabrera leads (outright or tied) the AL in runs, hits, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS+ and total bases.
• The Rangers defeated the Mariners, 15-3, collecting three doubles for their only three extra-base hits. The 15 runs in a homerless game are the most for Texas since beating the Blue Jays, 15-5, on May 27, 1997. Saturday's game was the first in Senators/Rangers history in which the club plated as many as 15 runs while collecting as few as three extra-base hits.
• Josh Hamilton hit a solo homer in the 10th inning to give the Angels a 6-5 win over the Astros. Hamilton has two game-ending home runs this season and the Angels have four. Those four tie them with the Red Sox, Giants and D-backs for the second most in the Majors, with the Indians having five. The four for the Angels are the most for the club since the 2010 team also had four.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.