The key to true greatness is an unquenchable desire to continue your success, and Clayton Kershaw understands that.
The 2011 National League Cy Young award winner wasn't satisfied with just that, though, showcasing that fact by earning the 2012 NL ERA title with a dynamic performance against the San Francisco Giants in the season's final game. He went eight innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out eight and leaving with a 5-1 lead over the Giants.
Kershaw doesn't have the same elite numbers all the way across the board that he did last season, but he's been dominant nonetheless.
The southpaw finished the year 14-9 with 229 strikeouts (second in NL) through 227.2 innings. Those statistics may not jump out at you, but his league-best 2.53 ERA should.
How dominant was Kershaw compared to the NL's other hurlers? Check it out:
Kershaw's ERA last season, as a Cy Young winner, was 2.28. He's had 30-plus starts in each of the last four years; consistency like this is something we've come to expect from the flame-throwing left-hander.
Allowing Kershaw to throw the season's last game was risky for him on an individual basis, in case he had a poor showing and lost the league ERA lead, but he stepped up to the plate.
Los Angeles didn't make the postseason cut, though it was to no fault of its ace.
Kershaw's electric stuff will put him in contention for numerous accolades throughout his baseball career. At 24 years old, he hasn't even reached his peak. That should frighten opponents and give Dodgers followers chills.
Elite pitchers don't grow on trees, and superb lefties are even more rare. Kershaw has established himself as one of the game's best, with his 2012 performance only adding another tally in that department.
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