This is an easy one. Clayton Kershaw has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since he broke into the Major Leagues and pitched his first full season in 2009. If Kershaw ended his career today, he would be a Hall-of-Famer. He has pitched twelve seasons for the Dodgers, the same number as Sandy Koufax, and the similarity between the two southpaws is striking.
Over nearly an identical number of innings, Kershaw matches up with Koufax in almost every major statistical category. While Kershaw’s resume is a bit stained from his postseason struggles, his regular season record is overwhelmingly in favor of him becoming a Hall-of-Famer. Anytime you can match up with the great Sandy Koufax, you have reached an elite stratosphere of pitching.
Baseball Reference uses a variety of models to project whether a player is a Hall-of-Famer. According to JAWS, which measures a variety of factors in evaluating a player’s worthiness to reach Cooperstown, Kershaw already ranks 37th as a starting pitcher, close in ranking to Hall-of-Famers such as Nolan Ryan, Al Spalding, and Jim Palmer.
Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards, five ERA titles, a Gold Glove Award, and even accomplished the rare feat of winning National League MVP as a pitcher. It’s only a matter of time before Kershaw’s name is listed atop the Hall-of-Fame ballot.