Clayton Kershaw’s legacy shouldn’t depend on a World Series ring

Clayton Kershaw epitomizes greatness, even if he never wins a World Series.

Clayton Kershaw may not have a World Series ring, but that really doesn’t matter at this point.

For the last 13 years, Kershaw has been the face of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball. He’s the best left-handed pitcher to play for the Boys in Blue since the legendary Sandy Koufax. Kershaw is undoubtedly the Dodgers’ best pitcher of either dexterity since Don Sutton. Like Koufax and Sutton, Kershaw will have a plaque displaying a Dodgers cap in Cooperstown for all eternity.

Kershaw wouldn’t be the first ace pitcher to never win a World Series.

Though this may be the year it all goes right for the Dodgers, the last time they won a World Series, Kershaw was an infant. His regular season dominance and continued failures in the postseason are an ever-present reminder of how long ago 1988 really was. The question remains if he’ll get someone to be his Kirk Gibson and if he’s ready to be Orel Hershiser in October.

In 350 career starts, Kershaw boasts an overall record of 174-75. He career ERA is 2.43 and he recently achieved the 2,500 strikeout milestone, presently sitting at 2,505. Though he could pitch into his 40s if he really wanted to, Kershaw isn’t getting to 300 career wins like Sutton did in his illustrious career. However, he may surpass Sutton’s total of 3,574 career strikeouts eventually.

Though Sutton was never the best pitcher in baseball during his era, Kershaw may end up joining an impressive group of hall-of-fame pitchers who never won a World Series. The five best of note with plaques in Cooperstown include Sutton, Fergie Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Robin Roberts. While Kershaw doesn’t have to join that club, there’s not denying its greatness.

Thus far in his hall-of-fame worthy career, Kershaw has been named to the NL All-Star eight times, won five ERA titles and won three NL Cy Young Awards. In 2011, he won the Triple Crown (wins, ERA, strikeouts) and earned a Gold Glove. Three seasons later, he captured his third Cy Young in four years and won NL MVP. Outside of 2018, he’s been an All-Star ever year since 2011.

Even if Kershaw doesn’t have the captivating personality we’d expect out of a superstar in a city full of stars like Los Angeles, his play speaks for itself, just like the equally as soft-spoken Mike Trout starring in relative anonymity with the rival Los Angeles Angels. But with his shaggy hair, his unorthodox leg kick and his big sweeping curveball, there’s no one like Kershaw in baseball.

At 32 years old, we have to believe it will all go right for Kershaw’s Dodgers at some point, even if he isn’t Los Angeles’ ace in the latter years of his career. Frankly, it would be more shocking to see him play for anyone else than he would to retire in the latter years of this current decade without a World Series ring. We may be wrong with this bet, but we’re all-in on Kershaw getting a ring soon.

For anybody who says the winner of the 2020 World Series will have an asterisk next to their name in the record books can go to hell. We’ve been through so much this year and to be a no-good, buzz-killing waste of space serves absolutely no one. In fact, winning it all this year with an expanded postseason field in the midst of a global pandemic should be worn like a badge of honor.

Even if there are no fans present when Kenley Jansen records the final out of the 2020 Fall Classic in Chavez Ravine over whoever comes out of the American League, a loathsome burden will be lifted off Kershaw’s back like it was with Andy Reid down in Miami last February. The not-so-great honor of the best pitcher in baseball to never win a World Series will belong to someone else now.

Kershaw doesn’t need a ring for his legacy or to earn spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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