Clayton Kershaw prominently figured
I started writing a review of each week of the season in 2009, because I thought it would be nice to have someplace that documented Dodgers stats for each week. And I just kept writing them each week, season after season.
This continued even after I stepped away from day-to-day writing at the site in 2018-19. I kept podcasting, and kept doing weekly reviews at True Blue LA. Every week except for three in the last 12-plus years — twice in 2017, and once in 2018, Ryan Walton was kind enough to step in. I thought this Monday’s review was No. 300 for me, but upon reviewing the last dozen years I miscounted, and I’m actually at 301.
Believe it or not, I had not previously kept track of these weekly reviews before this week, so I went through them all.
Not surprisingly, Clayton Kershaw has dominated the pitcher of the week award, winning it 96 times in 301 chances. The first time was Week 4 in 2009, when he pitched seven scoreless innings in a no-decision against Jake Peavy. Kershaw even won batter of the week once, back in April 2016, when he had three hits in five at-bats while the Dodgers team scored only 12 runs in seven games, losing six times.
Kershaw’s most prolific year was 2011, his first Cy Young season, when he was named pitcher of the week here 13 times in 26 weeks, including a stretch of six consecutive weeks. Kershaw is the only other Dodgers pitcher to have won four straight True Blue LA pitcher of the week awards, having done so in 2014, 2015, and again in 2020. He also won three straight weeks five other times. It really has been his award.
No other Dodgers pitcher is close to Kershaw in winning pitcher of the week. Hyun-jin Ryu has won the second-most, capturing 19 weekly honors, with Zack Greinke (17) and Walker Buehler (15) next in line. Nine pitchers have won the weekly award in double digits.
The first pitcher of the week was won by reliever Ronald Belisario, who struck out eight while recording 14 outs in his first week in the majors in 2009. For the most part, starters dominate these awards, though a few times someone from the bullpen has snuck in. Kenley Jansen has won three pitcher of the week awards and shared two others, making him the most prolific reliever in this space, which makes since considering he’s been pitching in the Dodgers bullpen since July 2010.
Looking back, I was horrified to see how many times I split either the batter or pitcher award. Thirteen times I picked more than one person for either the batter or pitcher award, sometimes pulling a 1981 World Series and even choosing three players. Though after Chris Hatcher and Yimi Garcia split pitcher of the week in Week 2 of 2015, there’s been solo winners for both every week since.
The most prolific batter of the week is Matt Kemp, who won 28 times by himself and split four other awards. The only other hitters to win at least 20 are Andre Ethier, with 22 solo awards and three splits, and Justin Turner, who has been batter of the week 23 times.
Overall, 11 hitters have won batter of the week at least 10 times. Hanley Ramirez had the best solo extended run by a hitter, winning five straight weeks beginning June 17, 2013, a stretch that saw him hit .431/.488/.798 with nine home runs in 29 games. Though perhaps Kemp should count from the end of 2011 — when he won by himself, then was one of three winners in the final week of the season — into the first four weeks of 2012, a six-week run with at least a share of the batter of the week. Kemp also won the first batter of the week in 2009.
Batters who won four straight weeks are Rafael Furcal (Weeks 12-15, 2010), Yasiel Puig (Weeks 6-9, 2014) and Cody Bellinger (Weeks 2-5 in his MVP season of 2019).
I didn’t really choose gauntlets for the upcoming week’s schedule until near the end of the 2011 season. Any such references before that, which were rare, used a postseason series, like the 1987 NLCS when the Dodgers were about to play the Giants and Cardinals. The first player I used was Jeff Cirillo, when the Dodgers had the Brewers and Rockies due on the schedule in August 2011.
Cirillo is one of the most prolific repeat gauntlets, having used him four times in the last 12-plus years. The only players I’ve used more often were John Vander Wal and Brandon Medders. Pulling back the curtain here, I try to pick the player for the upcoming schedule gauntlet using whatever comes to mind first, but since I never tracked these before I had no idea I used some this often. If a name feels familiar, I will use the wonderful multi-team search tool in the Baseball-Reference frivolities section to peruse a list of names.
Other players I’ve used three times for gauntlets are Andy Benes, Chris Brown, Royce Clayton, Scott Hairston, Charlie Hayes, Ruppert Jones, Ted Simmons, and Herm Winningham. I’ve used 19 others twice, including Greg Colbrunn twice in a three-week span in May 2014. How embarrassing.
Maybe for the next 300 weeks, now that I have a working list, I won’t reuse any players for gauntlets. But no guarantees, so don’t be surprised if Medders somehow works his way in there again at some point. And thanks for reading.