Clayton Kershaw is no longer just dominating…
Last week, I looked at the luckiest pitchers to date. Clayton Kershaw was not only the most “skillsy,” but he was also slightly UN-lucky. Do you believe that?! His BABIP is actually the worst since 2008 while the HR/FB is the third worst of his career (still not bad) meaning his left-on-base rate is potentially the only luck he has going for him thus far, but then there are these splits:
Bases Empty: K-rate = 32.6%; .307 BABIP
Men on Base: K-rate = 37.5%; .269 BABIP
Runners in Scoring Position: K-rate =42.9%; .233 BABIP
Although the BABIP might be a little lucky with RISP, he’s throwing with a sense of urgency and is as or more dominating in increasing leverage situations. In fact, one of my ballsier forecasts last year was that Clayton Kershaw was going to be the #1 5×5 value in fantasy baseball. Had he not missed time, he would be top-5 right now, and assuming health, I don’t see why he won’t end up there.
Here are his individual whiff and groundball/flyball rates and ranks this year and 2013 (stats courtesy of Baseball Prospectus’ Pitch F/X Leaderboard):
|2014||as of 7/8/14||Qty||Usage||UseDiff||Vel||Rnk||Whiff/Swing||Rnk||GB/FB||Rnk|
Using it more, Kershaw has increased his Slider velocity by over 2MPH thus far. As Jeff Sullivan on FG pointed out, from about half, Kershaw now has a 4:1 low slider ratio, doubling his Slider’s GB/FB ratio. While it’s also induced more swing and miss, it has also ensured less quality contact.
Verifying his sense of control, look at the bottom third of his pitch% first from 2013:
And now for 2014 so far:
It might be difficult to distinguish, but as you can see, most locations in the bottom-third of the heatmap jumped while numbers in the top third of the zone (not shown) and beyond dropped. His value is not 100% about the K% any longer. It’s about the K-BB% and Balls In Play awesomeness.
Clayton Kershaw is no longer just dominating…He is commanding.
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