It is Dec. 30, 2013, meaning that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was born exactly 78 years ago today. Injury forced his retirement following the 1966 season, when Koufax was only 30, but he packed in some serious domination before retirement.
Koufax was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 -- his first try -- with 86.9 percent of the vote.
Here's his Hall of Fame video biography:
In 12 years, all for the Dodgers, Koufax went 165-87 with a 2.76 ERA (131 ERA+), 1.11 WHIP and 2,396 strikeouts in 2,324 1/3 innings. He completed 137 games in 314 starts with 40 shutouts. He was a six-time All-Star who won three Cy Youngs and an MVP.
On a personal note, I love that Koufax's birthday happens in the midst of the season where we argue about the Hall of Fame. I can't tell you how often we see something like "he was great, but not for long enough" when someone is attempting to discount the Hall of Fame credentials of a particular candidate.
Because Koufax wasn't great for long.
In his first six seasons, Koufax was 36-40 with a 4.10 ERA (100 ERA+) and 1.43 WHIP.
In 1961, Koufax was 18-13 with a 3.52 ERA (122 ERA+) and 1.21 WHIP. He led the majors with 269 strikeouts in 255 2/3 innings.
And then, he was possibly the best pitcher in baseball history for a five-year stretch. In the final five seasons of his career, Koufax was 111-34 (.766) with a 1.95 ERA (167 ERA+) and 0.93 WHIP. He led the league in ERA every single year. He led in strikeouts three times, including a high of 382 in 1965. He led the majors in WHIP four times, innings pitched twice and complete games twice. He topped the NL in shutouts three of the five seasons.
His average season during this five-year stretch? 22-7, 1.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 289 strikeouts, 20 complete games, seven shutouts, 275 innings pitched. Average!
Based upon that and his postseason dominance, he's absolutely a deserving Hall of Famer -- a true immortal of the game.
I'm just wondering if a player put up only five dominant seasons alongside one good season what kinds of things would be said about him in Internet comments sections concerning whether or not he's a Hall of Famer. There probably isn't a great contemporary comparison, as Koufax was superhuman during these five years, but I'm just wondering aloud (or in type, I guess) if six years would truly be enough for some of the sticklers we see these days.
Regardless, Happy Birthday to Sandy Koufax, obvious Hall of Famer.
Hat-tip: Big League Stew