Can Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw dominate in his 30s like he did in his 20s?
Kershaw turns 30 on March 19th. He enters the 2018 season (and his 30s) with 144 career wins and only 64 losses, a .692 winning percentage. Kershaw’s career in his 20s was one of the best in MLB history. Consider this:
- Kershaw is one of only 34 pitchers in baseball history to have 140 or more wins in his 20s.
- Kershaw’s .692 winning percentage is the second-best all-time of the 171 pitchers who won 100 or more games in their 20s. Whitey Ford was 105-40 (.724 winning percentage) in his 20s, the highest winning percentage in this stat.
Kershaw is one of three active pitchers who won 140 or more games in their 20s. C.C. Sabathia won 157 in his 20s, while Felix Hernandez won 143 in his 20s. (For the record, Sabathia has won 80 in his 30s; Hernandez has won 17.)
As I stated in the opening paragraph, the question will be can Kershaw, now age 30, match the success he had in his 20s. Can he reach 200 wins? How about 250? Or 300?
Looking at the 31 non-active pitchers who reached 140 or more wins in their 20s, it’s interesting to note that not all had success in their 30s. In fact, nine of the 31 did not reach 200 career wins after posting 140+ before hitting their 30s. Others flourished in their 30s… some even winning more games in their 30s than their 20s. For example, these pitchers with 140 or more wins in their 20s won more in their 30s than their 20s;
Pete Alexander (won 160 in his 20s; 213 in his 30s)
Roger Clemens (won 152 in his 20s; 202 in his 30s)
Greg Maddux (won 150 in his 20s; 205 in his 20s)
Tom Seaver (won 146 in his 20’s; 165 in his 30s)
There have been 11 pitchers who won 140+ in their 20s who won less than 40 games in their 30s. Unfortunately, some of these pitchers passed away during their baseball careers. For others, injury or other performance factors played a role in them not matching their win totals from their 20s. Those 11 pitchers are:
Dizzy Dean, 3 wins in his 30s… 147 wins in his 20s
Addie Joss, 5 wins in his 30s… 155 wins in his 20s
Wes Ferrell, 18 wins in his 30s… 175 wins in his 20s
Hal Newhouser, 22 wins in his 30s… 185 wins in his 20s
Ken Holtzman, 23 wins in his 30s… 151 wins in his 20s
Don Drysdale, 32 wins in his 30s… 177 wins in his 20s
Fernando Valenzuela, 32 wins in his 30s… 141 wins in his 20s
Chief Bender, 36 wins in his 30s… 176 wins in his 20s
Lefty Gomez, 36 wins in his 30s… 153 wins in his 20s
Dave McNally, 36 wins in his 30s… 148 wins in his 20s
Dwight Gooden, 37 wins in his 30s… 157 wins in his 20s
One final note: There are only two active pitchers under the age of 30 who have accumulated 100 or more wins. Rick Porcello sits at 117 career wins. He dies not turn 30 until after the end of the 2018 season. Madison Bumgarner has 104 career wins and doesn’t turn 30 until August 1, 2019. He certainly has an outside chance of reaching that 140 career wins in his 20s.
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The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the 2018 season with a streak of five consecutive years with 90 or more wins. They are one of only 19 teams in MLB history to win 90 or more games in five straight seasons. If they should win 90 this season, they would become only the 11th team in MLB history to win 90+ in six straight campaigns.
The New York Yankees from 1947-58 hold the record in this stat… they won 90 or more in 12 straight seasons. Second on the list are the 1904-12 Chicago Cubs that won 90+ in nine straight seasons.
Following are the 19 teams that have won 90 or more games in five straight seasons (or longer).
12-New York Yankees, 1947-58
9-Chicago Cubs, 1904-12
7-New York Yankees, 2001-07
6-New York Giants, 1908-13
6-Philadelphia A’s, 1909-14
6-Philadelphia A’s, 1927-32
6-St. Louis Cardinals, 1941-46
6-Cleveland Indians, 1950-55
6-Brooklyn Dodgers, 1951-56
6-Atlanta Braves, 1995-2000
5-Pittsburgh Pirates, 1905-09
5-New York Giants, 1933-37
5-New York Yankees, 1960-64
5-Oakland A’s, 1971-75
5-Cincinnati Reds, 1972-76
5-New York Mets, 1984-88
5-Oakland A’s, 2000-04
5-San Francisco Giants, 2000-04
5-Los Angeles Dodgers, 2013-17 (active)
Of the current 30 MLB teams, the Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins hold the distinction of having the longest drought when it comes to 90-win seasons. Neither team has won 90 or more in a season since 2003.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
This year’s ALCS and NLCS teams are now set… the Astros will face off against the Yankees tonight in the ALCS and the Cubs and Dodgers will play Game One on Saturday in the NLCS.
In the ALCS, the Yankees will be making their 16th ALCS appearance, most in the league since baseball went to the Championship Series format in 1969, while the Astros will be making their first-ever ALCS appearance. The Astros are the last of the 15 current A.L. franchises to play in an ALCS. Oakland (11 ALCS appearances) are second to the Yankees in most ALCS played.
In the NLCS, the Cubs will be making their third straight and fifth NLCS appearance. The Dodgers will be playing in the NLCS for the 12th time, second to the St. Louis Cardinals who have played in 13 NLCS.
With a 3-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers last night, the Los Angeles Dodgers upped their home record in 2017 to 51-14.
They are one of 318 teams in MLB history to win 51 or more games at home. They do, however, have 16 games remaining on their home field, and could become only the 13th team in baseball history to win 60 or more games at home in a season. The Dodgers would need to go 9-7 in their last 16 games at Dodger Stadium to reach the 60-win mark in home games in a season.
The 1961 New York Yankees hold the MLB record for most home wins in a season with 65. The 1975 Cincinnati Reds had 64 wins at home, followed by the 1998 and 1932 Yankees, both with 62 home victories. The 1962 Giants and the 1946 and 1949 Red Sox are next with 61 home wins. There are also five teams that won 60 home games in a campaign, the last being the 1977 Phillies.
Of the 12 teams to win 60 or more games at home in a season, five won the World Series that season.
Is performing well in extra-inning games an important factor in success in the major leagues?
Looking at games in the 2017 MLB season, we see there are 13 of the 30 teams that have a winning record (above .500) in extra-inning games. Of those 13, all six of the current division leaders (the Dodgers, Cubs and Nats in the N.L.; the Red Sox, Astros and Indians in the A.L.) have a winning record in extra-inning contests this season.
The Orioles (not one of the division-leaders) have the best extra-inning record at 10-2 (.833) in the majors. The other three teams with a winning percentage above .700 in extra-inning games this season are the Dodgers (8-3 .727), Diamondbacks (8-3 .727) and Red Sox (11-3 .786). The D’Backs currently hold one of the Wild Card spots in the N.L., while the Dodgers and Red Sox, as noted above, are division-leaders.
Here’s one more stat about this year’s extra-inning games records: The 13 teams that have a winning record in extra-inning games have a combined overall record of 886-755, a .540 winning percentage. The 17 teams that do not have a winning record in extra-inning games are a combined 1005-1136, a .469 winning percentage.