Sandy Koufax was trending on Twitter which often is not a good sign but thankfully it was just to celebrate his birthday. Many made claims he was one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Let’s look at his career cut short by injury.
Koufax had arthritis in his elbow at the absolute peak of his career. A greater than 13 WAA is an extraordinary season. He won 3 Cy Young awards. You can guess from above which years those were. Even though he ranked #2 in 1963, he won NL MVP. Some guy called Hank Aaron playing for the Milwaukee Braves was very slightly ahead of him that year according to this data model but it was close enough to be a toss up.
At ~50 WAA he is technically border line HOF solely based on that. It’s probable Koufax could have doubled or more that career WAA had he not had a career ending injury. That would have made him one of the best pitchers of all time based solely on career WAA.
There are many factors to consider for awards, HOF induction, player acquisitions, etc. other than raw WAA. He pitched a bunch of no hitters and a perfect game and lots of strikeouts. .
Below is the most important other factor which gets him in HOF first ballot.
He pitched 57 innings with a sub 1.00 ERA in post season. This compiles into a post season WAA value ranked #13 among all MLB players ( both BAT and PITCH ) who played in playoffs from 1903-2018. This led to LAN winning 4 World Series trophies; the only trophy that matters. in baseball. Update: At the time Koufax was inducted into HOF (1972) he was ranked #4 best post season player behind Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig according to this data model. There are a lot more playoff games per year in modern baseball.
Happy Birthday Sandy Koufax.
That’s all for this first post of the 20s decade. Minor leagues coming next . Until then ….