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Billy Ripken: ‘Kershaw On Pace To Be Greatest Left-Handed Pitcher Of All Time’

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Clayton Kershaw (Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw (Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

All right, this is just getting ridiculous.

In the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, Clayton Kershaw loaded the bases – for the first time all season.

He of course did not allow anyone to score.

“That’ll tell you how good he is, because we’re not even talking about runs scored or base runners and things like ERA (and) WHIP,” MLB Network analyst Billy Ripken said on The Morning Show. “We’re talking about, ‘Oh my God, they loaded the bases against this guy.’ He is flat out ridiculous. He’s the top dog in the game. I don’t think there’s any question about it. His age, his durability, his competitiveness and then his stuff on top of it – he’s No. 1.”

The one run Arizona scored Wednesday? Yup, it was unearned. Kershaw allowed six hits in eight innings. He struck out 10 and retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced.

Kershaw leads the majors in wins (16), ERA (1.73) and is seventh in strikeouts (194). Wait, seventh? Really?

Yes, but he leads the majors in K’s per nine innings (10.82).

Okay, it’s time to do some projecting. Kershaw, 26, has a career 93-49 record with a 2.50 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 1,400 strikeouts. He’s also a four-time All-Star, a two-time Cy Young winner, a three-time ERA champion, a two-time strikeout champion and in 2011 won the Triple Crown.

If Kershaw has another four or five seasons like his last four or five seasons, where is he going to rank all-time with southpaw legends Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton?

“Well, that is tough, and we could rate them a lot of different ways,” Ripken said. “But I think Kershaw is on pace to probably be ranked ahead of the other guys.”

Johnson retired with a 303-166 record, a 3.29 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 4,875 strikeouts – second only to Nolan Ryan all time. Johnson was also a 10-time All-Star, a five-time Cy Young winner, a four-time ERA champion, a nine-time strikeout champion, he pitched a no-hitter, he pitched a perfect game and won the Triple Crown and a World Series.

Wow.

Carlton, meanwhile, went 329-244 with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and 4,136 strikeouts – fourth-most all time. He was also a 10-time All-Star, a four-time Cy Young winner, a two-time World Series champion and in 1972 won the Triple Crown.

Again, wow.

“I think if you rank them (by) the uneasiness factor, you got to throw the Big Unit up there at the No. 1 spot,” Ripken said. “And what Carlton was able to do on a bad Philly team and win nearly half of their games – it’s so hard to rate them or rank them. I think any one of them could be No. 1 in any different category.”

“But Kershaw, right now, is on pace, I think, to be probably the best left-handed pitcher of all time.”

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