Does Good Pitching Still Beat Good Hitting? A Look at Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta

Does Good Pitching Still Beat Good Hitting? A Look at Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta

Both pitchers are dominating the MLB in 2016, but who’s been better?

It’s always said that good pitching beats good hitting and Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta are prime examples of that. Each is simply dominating the competition thus far in 2016, but the question is: who’s the best? After all, nobody likes a tie.

Clayton Kershaw vs. Jake Arrieta

Though the two do have some similarities between them, their paths to stardom in the MLB couldn’t be more different. Each man tips the scales at 6’4” and about 225 lbs, a terrific frame for a power pitcher. Their birthdays are almost exactly 2 years apart and the Texas boys grew up within 30 minutes of each other outside of Dallas, Kershaw attending University Park High school and Arrieta at Plano East. Must be something in the water. However, when you look at their baseball careers, the two men differ.

Clayton Kershaw was the 7th overall pick straight out of high school in 2006 MLB draft while Arrieta was drafted in the 5th round in 2007 after attending junior college and TCU. Clayton was the high school phenom and Jake the seasoned college pitcher. Kershaw has been a star from day 1 while Arrieta toiled in anonymity until 2015.

MLB Starts

At the time of this writing, both Kershaw and Arrieta have made 15 starts in 2016. Kershaw is 11-1 and Arrieta a tick behind at 11-2. If we look at innings pitched, we’ll find that Clayton has a 17 inning lead on Arrieta, 115.0 to 98.0 — why do we care? Innings pitched is essentially outs recorded, which is the name of the game for a pitcher, so Kershaw has gotten more batters out than Arrieta in the same amount of starts. Next, ERA. Jake Arrieta has been stellar so far, allowing just 19 earned runs in those 98 innings for an ERA of 1.74, which is ridiculously good. However, Kershaw has managed to be even better. He’s given up 20 earned runs through 115 innings which brings his ERA to a miniscule 1.57.

Digging deeper, we’ll look at strikeouts, walks and baserunners allowed. This is where Kershaw takes a massive lead. Clayton Kershaw has already struck out 141 batters on the season (a pace of 310 K’s for the year) to Arrieta’s 107 (pace of 235) — which is still very respectable. When it comes to walks though, Kershaw has been historically good, issuing just 7 on the year! It makes Arrieta’s 35 walks look laughable even though it’s not.

WHIP Stats

Finally, we look at WHIP, which measures the amount of baserunners a pitcher allows per inning. Arrieta comes in at a very solid 0.98 — currently ranking 4th in the MLB among qualified starters. As you may have suspected though, Kershaw has been even better. He leads the majors by a large margin, sporting a 0.67 WHIP through 15 starts, a full .14 points better than the guy ranked second.

Despite how nasty Jake Arrieta has been in 2016, Clayton Kershaw has been even better.

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