Five ways to try to put Clayton Kershaw's insane strikeout-to-walk ratio into context
Advanced robots sent from the future are real. The Terminator is real. This must be true because Clayton Kershaw is, somehow, real. During the Dodgers' 4-2 victory against the Mets on Sunday night, the left-hander got a no decision despite going 7 2/3 innings, striking out 10 batters, walking zero and giving up two runs. (He also allowed his first home run since Giancarlo Stanton went deep on April 26.)
Perhaps even more shocking than a pitcher who entered the game leading the league in ERA, innings, complete games, shutouts, WHIP, ERA+, FIP, BB/9 and MK9 (Most Kershaws per nine innings), is his strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Because when the ace lefty was lifted, he had struck out 105 batters on the season and walked only five. Or, to phrase it another way, Kershaw is striking out 21 batters for every walk. It can be hard to truly understand just how outrageous that is. So here's a few attempts to put it in some kind of context.
1. No other pitcher has pulled this off
When Kershaw reached the 100 strikeout mark with only five walks, he topped Cliff Lee's record for best K/BB ratio at the 100-strikeout mark. Lee was at 100/7 in 2010, not reaching the century mark until July 22nd.
Lee didn't get to K Bartolo Colon for his 100th strikeout on the season, either. Which makes it much less entertaining.
Assuming Kershaw makes 33 starts, a number he's reached in four of the last five seasons, he would be on pace for 315 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 260 innings.
2. He's running laps around other pitchers
The record for best K/BB in a season by a pitcher who qualified for the ERA title was Phil Hughes in 2014, who finished at 11.63. Kershaw is nearly doubling that.
There are only two other starters who even finished with a ratio of better than 10/1: Bret Saberhagen at 11 in '94 and Lee at 10.28 in '10.
3. He's unfair
Sixty-one times a pitcher has walked five or more batters in one game in 2016! Yordano Ventura, Francisco Liriano and Tom Koehler have each done it three times.
4. What would a 21:1 ratio look like in other contexts?
Barry Bonds had 762 career home runs. 1/21 of that: Joe Girardi, with 36 career home runs.
Cy Young had 511 wins. Apply that ratio and we get Jordan Lyles' career total of 24 wins.
Pete Rose collected 4,256 hits. And when we apply Kershaw's K/BB ratio, we get just 203 hits -- or what amounts to one good season for a hitter.
Nolan Ryan struck out 5,714 batters in his career. 1/21 of that is 272 -- or 29 fewer batters than Kershaw punched out last season.
In fact, entering Sunday, there were 18 starters with at least 20 innings pitched who had yet to even strikeout 21 batters.
5. For the visual learner
Perhaps you're someone who needs a visual graph of the evidence to get a sense of how outrageous this is. Here is Kershaw's strikeout and walk maps from Baseball Savant before Sunday night's game.
If that's not good enough for you, imagine it as a Jackson Pollock piece compared to Joan Miro's "Bleu I."
Of course, while Kershaw's streak has been historic given just how many innings he's had to throw, there may be another player hot on his tail. After striking out the side on Sunday, Andrew Miller's run his K/BB ratio to 38/1. We may be in for a truly phenomenal strikeout-to-walk race this summer.