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Clayton Kershaw, young man alone at the top

July 21, 2011 | 10:06 am

Clayton3 It was another tweet, one from a seemingly endless black hole of tweets. This one came from Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, maybe just on a quick whim but a day later it still stuck with me.

Tweeted Heyman as Kershaw dominated the Giants on Wednesday:

"considering contract/age, there isnt anyone in baseball id trade clayton kershaw straight-up for.’’

And he’s absolutely right.

In a Dodgers season too filled with cubic zirconium, Kershaw is the real deal. Not just a diamond, but a gem like no other.

He’s emerged as one of baseball’s best pitchers and he’s only 23. That’s almost ungodly. He’s the greatest bargain in baseball at $500,000 this season, which ties him as the 22nd highest-paid Dodger.

And he still has three years of arbitration ahead of him, which at this rate, figure to be of the record-breaking variety.

Kershaw is not just a kid with some nasty stuff, but stuff he’s mastered. Not just an up-and-comer, but as ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson recognized: "He is an already-here and a not-going-away-anytime-soon."

Twice this season in a showdown with San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum, he’s won. His mental makeup is becoming almost as impressive as his curve. He seems to rise to the challenge, to relish it.

Kershaw leads the majors in strikeouts. He’s great right now and figures to only get better. Don Mattingly announced he was taking the shackles off Kershaw the first day of spring when he immediately named him his opening-day starter. Kershaw has done nothing but respond.

What other major leaguer is so young, has already done so much and is still under club control for the next three years?

Not a player you’d trade him for straight-up.

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Photo: Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch during the Dodgers' 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. Credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press

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