Fall 2021 SS Magazine

21 MLB players to watch in 2021: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw

Through the month of March, leading up to MLB Opening Day on April 1,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting 21 Christ-following players to watch in 2021.

Clayton Kershaw is finally a World Series champion. After coming up short in the Fall Classic in 2017 and 2018, Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in October to claim the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988.

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The 33-year-old helped anchor the Dodgers rotation throughout the postseason, giving up just 10 earned runs and 23 hits in 30.2 innings of work. He posted a 2-0 record and a 2.31 ERA in his two World Series starts. Kershaw was even better in the regular season, pitching to a 2.16 ERA and striking out 62 batters over 58.1 innings in his 10 starts.

The World Series was just about the only thing missing from Kershaw’s remarkable resume. He has an MVP and “Pitching Triple Crown” (leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA) in different seasons, three Cy Young Awards, a Gold Glove, five ERA titles and eight appearances in the All-Star Game.

His career regular-season ERA sits at 2.43 through 13 seasons and the last time he posted an ERA above 3.03 was his rookie season in 2008. He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting every year from 2011 to 2017.

And throughout his journey to becoming one of the best pitchers in MLB history, Kershaw has never been shy about pointing others to Christ and sharing his faith.

“I didn’t do anything to deserve this gift,” Kershaw told FCA Magazine in 2018. “God gave me an ability to throw a baseball. He chose me for a reason, and I want to honor Him with that. You can’t control the talents He gives you, no doubt about that. But you can control the effort you put forth with those talents.”

In 2011, Kershaw and his wife Ellen founded Kershaw’s Challenge, a “faith-based, others-focused” non-profit organization that “seeks to serve vulnerable and at-risk children living in Los Angeles, Dallas, Zambia and the Dominican Republic.” Through the foundation, they funded an orphanage in Zambia called Hope’s Home.

When the Dodgers decided, in a show of solidarity, not to play after Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this past summer, Kershaw made it clear where his priorities lie in an Instagram post.

“Love God. Love others. Simple as that,” he wrote. “Tonight, my teammates and I decided not to play. Tonight is about taking a stand right where I need to be — next to my teammate and coaches. Love God, love my teammates. Baseball comes after that.”

 

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Now, Kershaw enters the 2021 season in an unfamiliar position: trying to defend the championship he and the Dodgers had chased for so long. With the addition of 2020 Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer and re-signing of third baseman Justin Turner, they are viewed by many as the most talented team in baseball yet again.

While winning the World Series was another stop on Kershaw’s inevitable path to Cooperstown, he knows that he is ultimately defined by something much bigger than baseball.

“Jesus saved us, and Jesus is the only answer,” he said in a 2013 interview with The Increase. “This man-God took us and saved us, and that’s it. He’s our Savior, and everything is for Him, everything good in this world comes from Him. You can believe that or you don’t, but that’s it.”

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