Now Kershaw, 23, is coming off his first NL Cy Young Award. He won 21 games and became the first Dodger to claim the pitching Triple Crown since Sandy Koufax. There are those who believe he soon will be the best pitcher in baseball — if he isn’t already.
But that’s subjective. Here’s a fact: Kershaw has more wins (47) than Maddux (45) at the same point in his career.
Maddux acknowledges Kershaw has a chance to win 300 games — at least, as much of a chance as anyone his age could.
...Kershaw’s chances at 300 could be aided by working in one of baseball’s great pitcher-friendly ballparks — and playing on a Dodgers team that should become stronger after the ownership transition. Maddux, though, doesn’t put much stock in such things.
“Park, offense, defense — that has jack s—- to do with it,” he said. “It’s about how you pitch. I don’t buy into that. Steve Carlton was on the worst team in the world (and still won 27 games). … It’s how you pitch. The pitcher makes the team. If you outpitch the other guy, you win. You’ve got to be better than the guy you’re facing.”
Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum might beg to differ. They are several years older than Kershaw but aren’t far ahead of him in wins — each has 69 — because the San Francisco hitters have offered modest run support. They’ll have their chances to slow Kershaw’s progress toward 300 when they face him this year. But they may need to pitch like Maddux to do it.