Today is the second anniversary of Clayton Kershaw‘s no-hitter against the Rockies. That’s not what this post is about, but it’s as good a time as any to reflect briefly upon how incredible Kershaw’s 2016 season has been.
The facts within this post are inspired by this tweet:
Kershaw’s K:BB rate is 19.0.
K:BB rates after 0-2 counts this year:
— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBP) June 17, 2016
Of course, this originates from the fact that Clayton Kershaw has currently struck out 133 batters and has walked seven. Looking at the “after count” splits is a pretty rich font for further fun facts, so let’s do that. After getting a first pitch strike, Clayton Kershaw has struck out 92 batters and walked four (23 K:BB, last year’s number was 18.75). After getting ahead 0-2, Kershaw has struck out 51 batters and walked one (last year’s ratio: 38.25).
However, my favorite genre of these facts are what happens when Kershaw falls behind in the count. When Kershaw does not throw a first pitch strike (falls behind 1-0), he has struck out 41 batters and walked three, a ratio of 13.75:1. That would still be good enough for the major league record in all counts. After falling behind 2-0 (happened 30 times this year), Kershaw has struck out six batters and walked two, good for a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. That’s better than the league average starting pitcher’s K:BB ratio. Kershaw’s 20.0% strikeout rate after falling behind in the count is identical to that of a league average starting pitcher. In three ball counts, Kershaw has a 2.71 K:BB ratio, nearly identical to the league average in all counts. In short, if you spot batters one ball against Clayton Kershaw, he’d still be on a record-setting K:BB pace. If you spot batters two balls against Clayton Kershaw, he’d still be a league average starting pitcher in terms of strikeouts (we can ignore the .950 OPS). In three ball counts, Kershaw has the same K:BB ratio as an average pitcher in all counts.
Never, ever take Clayton Kershaw for granted. At the end of the year, this may not be one of the greatest individual seasons a starting pitcher has ever had, but this is how such a season starts.