Clayton Kershaw is already on the path to Cooperstown. He’s arguably the best pitcher of the past generation and has continued to perform at a high level into his mid-30’s. Kershaw is undoubtedly a Los Angeles Dodgers’ legend as well. But recent rumors have suggested that Kershaw could retire at the end of the 2023 season, via Sports Illustrated. So that begs the question of whether or not Kershaw is on track to be a first ballot Hall of Famer?
Without further ado, here are 3 reasons Clayton Kershaw is already a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Clayton Kershaw has received no shortage of accolades during his big league tenure.
Not only is Kershaw a 3-time NL Cy Young Award winner, he even won an MVP back in 2014. He was ultimately selected as the MVP after pitching to the tune of a remarkable 1.77 ERA to go along with 239 strikeouts and a 0.857 WHIP.
Kershaw has made 9 All-Star teams and led the league in ERA on 5 separate occasions. His consistency has stood out, as the left-hander hasn’t posted an ERA of above 3.55 with the exception of his 2008 rookie year, when he had a 4.26 ERA.
Clayton Kershaw has also earned a pitching triple crown, Gold Glove Award, Roberto Clemente Award, and pitched a no-hitter in 2014.
From a statical standpoint, there is no denying his Hall of Fame standing. But there’s more to Clayton Kershaw’s first ballot case.
There have been plenty of Hall of Famers who’ve never won a championship in baseball. Rings don’t hold as much significance in MLB as they do in the NBA or NFL for Hall of Fame purposes, since one single player can’t take a team all the way. For example, Mike Trout has been MLB’s best player for around a decade but the Los Angeles Angels have made the playoffs just one time with Trout on the team.
With that being said, the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series championship will help Clayton Kershaw’s first ballot case. Although MLB rings may not hold as much significance for Hall of Fame cases in comparison to other sports, they certainly don’t hurt matters.
Kershaw has endured his share of postseason struggles. But he led LA to their World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020, posting a 2.31 ERA in a pair of starts for the Dodgers in the Fall Classic. He also earned two victories in the process.
If Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t have pitched as well as he did against the Rays, there’s no guarantee Los Angeles would have even won.
With winning, accolades and statistics out of the way, there is one final reason Clayton Kershaw is already a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.
Clayton Kershaw’s Dodgers legacy
The baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame are human beings. They aren’t robots strictly looking at stats and deciding who gets into Cooperstown. And legacy and loyalty matter as a result.
Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were both 1st ballot Hall of Famers, with Rivera getting in via unanimous decision. And they both spent their entire careers in New York with the Yankees.
Clayton Kershaw’s Dodgers legacy will impact his 1st ballot Hall of Fame case. He’s already regarded as one of the best Dodgers of all time.
In the end, there isn’t a case to be made against Kershaw’s Hall of Fame chances. But some may attempt to argue against his first ballot odds. However, these three reasons prove Clayton Kershaw is already a first ballot MLB Hall of Famer.