Home run rate
The main indicators that Kershaw really is susceptible to the long ball come in a few main forms. Over the last few seasons, he has had a higher rate of pitches be pulled, be hit hard, and leave the yard than at any point in his career. He also, as everyone knows, has far less average velocity on his fastball.
But is there any hope for the (gradually) falling star? Should he age gracefully in terms of the home run ball? Or could he even find a way to improve the skill?
Obviously, at this point in my Kershaw fandom, I believe the southpaw can do anything and learn any skill. The fact that he has his lowest second-half ERA since 2016 tells me that. But still, I decided to find comparable lefties in terms of pitch mix and velocity to try and determine if there was a certain pitch he could alter, or add, to find better results.
Here’s what I found.
Since 2017, amongst qualified starters, Kershaw has allowed 58 home runs. Aaron Nola has allowed 57, Max Scherzer 56. So he hasn’t allowed a number of home runs so gaudy it would keep him from being an ace, but most of us already agreed with that.
But more importantly, what about his rate stats over this 2 1/2 plus season span? He has the 13th-best HR/9IP out of 32 qualifiers, but the tenth-highest HR/FB rate and 13th highest hard contact rate so is either in the middle of the pack or worse amongst his fellow workhorses across baseball. Obviously, he’s one of the best in the game, but not in the home run department.