Clayton Kershaw is starting the 2015 season as the favorite to win the Cy Young Award, which would be his third straight and fourth in five years.
All of his success has also gotten him to be the highest paid player in the league.
Here’s what you need to know about the reigning NL MVP:
1. He’s Won 3 Cy Youngs, NL MVP and a Gold Glove
Kershaw is going into his age-27 season. No other pitcher has won more than two Cy Young Awards at that point in their career, according to True Blue LA, and Kershaw has the chance to win his fourth. His first four came in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Last season, he was named NL MVP, and he won a Gold Glove in 2011. He’s also been to three All-Star Games. In June, 2014, he pitched a no-hitter.
2. Kershaw is the Highest Paid Player in the League
Kershaw’s $31 million salary this season is the highest in all of baseball right now and the highest for a pitcher in MLB history.
He and the Dodgers agreed last year to a seven-year, $215 million dollar deal. He has the option for the final two years of the contract.
3. His ERA is the Lowest in the Live-Ball Era
According to SB Nation, Kershaw’s 2.70 ERA when he reached the 1,000 inning mark in 2013 was the lowest of any pitcher who made it to that point. Since then, he’s brought it down even more — to 2.48 to start the 2015 season.
He goes into the season with a 98-49 record and 1,445 strikeouts in seven seasons.
4. He Was Hit by a Line Drive in Spring Training
Kershaw had one tooth pulled and another repaired after being hit in the face by a line drive in a spring training game against the Athletics. Watch the video above.
He was able to stay in the game and told the Orange County Register that it came in softer than he was expecting.
He didn’t hit it hard. I think I overshot it because I thought it was coming harder than it was. … If it was serious – if I felt bad, I wouldn’t have [stayed in the game]. It’s not worth it. It’s spring training, like you said. At the same time, we’re at the point where I only have a couple more (preseason starts) to build up my pitch count. So it’s pretty important that I stay out there right now.
5. Kershaw and His Wife Have Been Together Since High School
The two married in December, 2010, and photos from the event can be seen here. They had their first child, daughter Cali Ann, in January, 2014.
They use their project, Kershaw’s Challenge, to help build a children’s home in Zambia. The Challenge has the couple donating $100 for every strikeout he earns.