Friday, January 17, 2014

Dodgers Sign Clayton Kershaw To Seven-Year Contract

The Dodgers make it official. I'm a happy fan!

From the Dodgers -

The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a seven-year contract through the 2020 season. General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.

“It is an incredible privilege to be part of the Los Angeles Dodger organization for another seven years,” said Kershaw. “L.A. has become a second home to me and my wife, and I’m excited for the opportunity to represent the city for a long time to come. I am particularly grateful to our team’s ownership and front office for believing in me. With this contract comes tremendous responsibility, not only as a pitcher, but as a good steward of the resources given to me. To whom much is given, much is required. Ellen and I are excited to take an undeserved blessing and, Lord willing, make a difference in the lives of others. I’m humbled by this recognition and looking forward to a new season, and hopefully, a World Series championship for the city of Los Angeles.”

“There are great players and pitchers in the game,” said Colletti. “And then there are those who are truly special. Clayton is not only among the elite of this era, but the perspective he and Ellen bring to their lives in helping others is equally remarkable. We have been honored to have the Kershaws as part of the Dodger organization and we are honored to have them as a part of the Dodger family for years to come.”

Kershaw, a two-time Cy Young Award winner (2011, 2013), three-time All-Star (2011-2013) and 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Award recipient, has gone 77-46 with a 2.60 ERA in 184 games (182 starts) with the Dodgers since making his Major League debut in 2008. He has topped the Majors in ERA for the last three seasons, becoming just the third pitcher since 1900 to do so, along with Lefty Grove (Philadelphia Athletics, 1929-31) and Greg Maddux (Atlanta Braves, 1993-95), and since making his MLB debut, the 25-year-old leads the Majors in ERA and opponents’ batting average (.211), while ranking among the National League’s best in wins (T-4th), winning percentage (.626, 5th), shutouts (7, 2nd), complete games (11, T-4th), innings pitched (1,180.0, 5th), strikeouts (1,206, 2nd) and WHIP (1.09, 2nd) in that span. Overall, his career ERA is the lowest among pitchers with at least 1000.0 innings pitched and 100 starts since the start of the Live Ball Era in 1920.

In just six Major League seasons, Kershaw has already become entrenched in Dodger franchise history as one of only two pitchers with multiple Cy Young Awards (Sandy Koufax, 1963, ’65, ’66), in addition to already ranking among the all-time Los Angeles leaders (min. 1,000 innings) in ERA (1st), strikeouts (1,206, 8th), opponents’ batting average (.211, 2nd), wins (17th), games started (182, 15th) and innings pitched (1,180.0, 17th).

Last year, Kershaw earned 29 of 30 first-place Cy Young votes to win the award after going 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA in 33 starts. In addition to leading the Majors in ERA, he paced the big leagues with a 0.92 WHIP and ranked among the NL leaders in wins (T-3rd), strikeouts (232, 1st), opponents’ batting average (.195, 2nd), quality starts (27, 1st), shutouts (2, T-1st), complete games (3, T-3rd), pickoffs (7, 2nd) and innings pitched (236.0, 2nd). Among pitchers with more than 220.0 innings in a single season, Kershaw’s ERA was the lowest by a Major Leaguer since Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 mark in 1985 and overall, he was just the third qualifying pitcher since 2000, joining Clemens (1.87, 2005 Houston) and Pedro Martinez (1.74, 2000 Boston), and the second all-time Los Angeles Dodger hurler to post a sub-2.00 ERA (Koufax, three times: 1963, 1964, 1966). Kershaw commenced his third-consecutive All-Star season with a shutout of the Giants on Opening Day, his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Dodgers and, with 16.0 scoreless innings during the season’s opening week, was named the NL’s Pitcher of the Week. Kershaw also won league honors in July, when he was selected NL Pitcher of the Month with a 4-1 record and a 1.34 ERA (7 ER/47.0 IP) in six starts in the month.

Kershaw has been at his best at Dodger Stadium throughout his career, going 42-23 with a 2.20 ERA (155 ER/633.0 IP) and four shutouts in 96 starts. Among pitchers with 20 or more starts at Chavez Ravine, his ERA ranks third, behind only Sandy Koufax (1.37) and Don Drysdale (2.19), while also placing second in opponents’ batting average (.206) and seventh in winning percentage (.646). Kershaw was unbeaten in 16 consecutive home starts between May 2, 2011-April 27, 2012, going 12-0 during that span to tie Orel Hershiser (Sept. 30, 1984-Oct. 2, 1985) for the longest winning streak in stadium history.

The Texas native has also fared well in 83 games (82 starts) against divisional opponents during his career, posting a 37-22 record (.627) and the fourth-lowest all-time ERA against NL West opponents (min. 25 starts) with a 2.40 mark. Among pitchers with a minimum of 75.0 innings pitched, Kershaw has the lowest ERA of any pitcher since 1921 against the Giants’ franchise with a 1.38 mark (24 ER/157.0 IP) to go along with an 11-5 record and three shutouts in 22 games (21 starts) against San Francisco.

Off the field, Kershaw has established himself as a clubhouse leader and was honored in 2013 with the Roy Campanella Award as the “most inspirational Dodger,” while joining his wife, Ellen, in making an impact in the community through their charitable work in Los Angeles, their hometown of Dallas and in Africa. Clayton and Ellen hosted a charity event this past August, Ping Pong 4 Purpose, to raise money for their charity organization, Kershaw’s Challenge, which encourages people to make a difference by giving back to at-risk children and communities in need. The charity has provided assistance to a variety of organizations, including to its cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” which helped the Kershaws build and sustain an orphanage for children in Lusaka, Zambia, called “Arise Home,” along with Sharefest in Southern California and Mercy Street in Dallas. For his charity work, Kershaw was recognized by Major League Baseball with the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award as the baseball player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. In addition, the Rotary Club of Denver recognized him in November with the 2013 Branch Rickey Award, which honors individuals in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their communities and who are strong role models for young people.

Kershaw was originally selected by the Dodgers in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Highland Park (Texas) High School.

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