Carl Hubbell vs. Sandy Koufax: A Hall of Fame Inner Circle Debate

Dating back to Graham Womack’s Inner Circle Hall of Fame project, Bryan and I have been engaging in a friendly debate regarding a couple candidates where our ballots differed, and who received decidedly different levels of support from the project’s voters. We agreed back then to collaborate on a post where we’d debate the merits of our guy versus the other. That was back in July, so this one has admittedly been a long time coming, but Adam’s recent Hall of Stats unveiling served to rekindle the conversation.

Honestly, the reason this little collaboration has taken so long to come to fruition is because I quickly realized I was fighting a losing battle, and frankly, I’m not a good loser. You see, Bryan’s candidate received more than three times as many votes as mine in said Inner Circle ballot. Which, of course, reinforces to me the guy’s career was overvalued, but that realization doesn’t do me much good when the rest of you put me in my place for saying that. Making matters worse, I quickly learned, when Bryan ended an otherwise completely objective argument with over-the-top hyperbole, Bryan’s simply a better debater than I am. Either that, or he’s just completely full of it. I’ll let you decide.

But, the thing that gave me a glimmer of hope I actually stand a chance of winning this argument (did I mention I like to win?) is the Hall of Stats, which says my candidate is more than 30% better* than Bryan’s. Yes, you read that right. I said more than 30% better. That’s like the difference between Sandy Koufax and Milt Pappas. Seriously.

*OK, so Adam corrected me when I used the word “better” in a comment thread where I was essentially trolling Bryan on his own blog. Adam claims “more valuable” is more appropriate. Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever. It’s not like he’s an authority on the subject or anything.

Oh, and speaking of Koufax, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, he’s Bryan’s guy. Mine is Carl Hubbell.

Let’s get it on…

 

The Case for Carl Hubbell
by Dan McCloskey

Of course, Sandy Koufax is primarily remembered for a dominant stretch in which his statistics look unbeatable until you factor in it happened in an era that favored pitchers and in a hitter-unfriendly home ballpark. But, there’s really no debating that Koufax’s four best consecutive years (1963-1966) are better than Hubbell’s (1933-1936), although not by as much as you’d think when you adjust for ballpark and era:

However, four years does not a Hall of Fame inner circle case make, so we need to take a look at a larger body of work. We already know that smaller samples will favor Koufax, while larger ones will favor Hubbell, so let’s start by looking at eight years, which we’ll call their “extended peak.” This seems a pretty fair compromise, albeit one that should still probably favor the player with the better peak:

Koufax (1959-1966): 145-66, 2.49 ERA, 141 ERA+, 1961 IP, 47.7 WAR, 31.3 WAA
Hubbell (1929-1936): 160-88, 2.74 ERA, 143 ERA+, 2270 IP, 47.8 WAR, 31.4 WAA

Two things jump out at me. First and foremost, how unbelievably close these sets of numbers look, particular in the player valuation metrics (WAR and WAA). But, also Koufax’s 0.25 ERA advantage points to how he’s become just a bit over-rated, since Hubbell has a better (park and era adjusted) ERA+ despite Koufax’s not insignificant ERA advantage.

So, what am I trying to say here? I’ve conceded Koufax had the better peak, but when we look at extended peak, they’re basically even. You could argue that Hubbell is better, since he maintained a slightly higher ERA+ over 300 more innings, but you could also counter that Koufax earned the same value over 300 fewer innings, so he was maybe a little more dominant. Personally, I prefer the ERA+ comparison when we’re looking at a body of work in the ballpark of 2000 innings, but you could make a case that it all basically evens out. I threw the won-loss records in there, just for kicks, but I don’t think there’s much value in those.

However, the WAR and WAA totals represent 95% and 102% of Koufax’s career value, respectively. For Hubbell, they’re only 73% and 82% of his career totals. Lest you think Hubbell was just a compiler in the years that fell outside of that range, here are those numbers: 93-66, 3.39 ERA, 112 ERA+, 1320 IP, 17.5 WAR, 7.1 WAA. So, you can see he was still a pretty effective pitcher and if we looked at any time frame greater than eight years, Hubbell would clearly be superior.

Personally, I think a major reason why Koufax is seen as an inner circle guy is that he retired at his peak, so he gets a lot of credit for what might have been. In reality, though, injuries are what prompted his decision to retire. As unfortunate as that is, he’s not alone in this regard.

Wes Ferrell and Bret Saberhagen are examples of pitchers who fought through their career-threatening injuries and probably negatively affected their legacies in the process. Sure, neither of them had peaks quite as great as Koufax (although Adam may disagree with me when it comes to Ferrell), but I wonder how our perceptions of Koufax may have changed had he had a similar downward trajectory while attempting to comeback from injury.

Of course, we can’t assume that would have happened to Koufax. Neither can we make all the “what might have been” assumptions that seem to drive the perception he’s worthy of the Hall of Fame inner circle.

 

The Case for Sandy Koufax
by Bryan O’Connor

That Hubbell accumulated more career value can’t be denied, and you make a compelling argument that Hubbell’s peak value was comparable to Koufax’s as well.  Eight years seems like a reasonable sample size to compare the peak value of any two players, but it sells Koufax’s greatness short.

Hubbell’s eight best seasons came at ages 26 to 33.  That may be a little on the late side for the average pitcher, but it’s probably typical of Hall of Fame pitchers, who generally separate themselves from lesser pitchers by dominating well into their 30s.  Sandy Koufax was not a typical Hall of Fame pitcher.  He retired at age 30, having just finished two of the greatest pitcher seasons in baseball history.  To fix his peak at eight years is to include his age 23 to 25 seasons, when he was still honing the skills that would make him the best pitcher in baseball.  Hubbell didn’t even crack the major leagues until he was 25, and his numbers that season are underwhelming, but are conveniently left out of his eight-year peak.

From 1962 to 1966, Koufax’s true peak, he never had an ERA over 2.54 and led his league in ERA every season.  He struck out 1,444 batters and walked 316, a 4.57 to 1 ratio.  Koufax earned 39.1 rWAR and 42.9 fWAR in five years.

Hubbell’s five best years also came consecutively, from 1932 to 1936.  Hubbell led his league in ERA three times over this stretch, with one blip in 1935, when his ERA spiked to 3.27.  He struck out 684 batters and walked 230, a 2.97 to 1 ratio.  Hubbell earned 35.7 rWAR and 24.1 fWAR over that stretch, a remarkable accomplishment, but one that not only pales in comparison to Koufax’s peak, but doesn’t look much better than contemporary Dizzy Dean’s and 32.6 rWAR and 29.7 fWAR over that same period.  Over in the AL, Lefty Grove put up 35.2 rWAR and 28.5 fWAR from ’32 to ’36 despite a 6.50 ERA over 12 games in 1934.  Was Hubbell ever the best pitcher in baseball?

I’ll admit that the five-year peak argument is biased in Koufax’s favor, but there was no one else in his stratosphere during that peak.  Had Koufax remained healthy and willing enough to keep pitching, he would have been 31 and 32 in two of the most pitcher-friendly years in baseball history, and it’s reasonable to believe that he could have put up a season like Bob Gibson’s 1968 in that environment.  I don’t approve of adding “would be” numbers to years a player missed, but if we’re looking for an inner circle Hall of Famer, don’t we want to choose the guy who was the best pitcher in the world for several years and retired on top of his game?

In addition to the short peak argument, Koufax also pitched in an integrated league at one of strongest times in National League history.  Park and era factors are important, and they’re baked into ERA+ and both versions of WAR, but advanced metrics can’t account for quality of competition.  When Koufax was dominating the National League, three of the best hitters in baseball history- Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Frank Robinson- were in their primes and playing for rival teams.  In Hubbell’s era, the best black players were playing in the Negro Leagues and the best white players were playing in the American League (Gehrig, DiMaggio) or on his own team (Ott).

In Koufax’s 12-year career, the National League won seven World Series, titles, including four by his Dodgers.  During Hubbell’s 16 years, the NL won just five championships, just one by his Giants.  The NL also went 8-4 in All-Star games during Koufax’s career, and 5-1 when he pitched, while the AL dominated the early All-Star games during Hubbell’s career.  Comparing leagues by championships and All-Star games is of course relying on small sample sizes, but they both support the generally-accepted opinion that the NL was at its peak in the ’60s, and perhaps at its nadir in the ’30s.

Sandy Koufax pitched against better hitters and dominated them like no pitcher had in decades.  He had two different seasons of 10 or more more rWAR and two of the seven sub-2 FIP seasons in baseball history.  Carl Hubbell was a great pitcher for a long time, and accumulated more career value, but he never pitched like Koufax did in the mid-’60s.  An inner circle without Koufax might as well not have any pitchers at all.

 


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76 Comments on "Carl Hubbell vs. Sandy Koufax: A Hall of Fame Inner Circle Debate"

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Baltimorechop
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I also put in a ballot in that Inner circle debate, and I know I had Hubbell & I believe I left Koufax off of mine (could be mistaken). Regardless, I know I had Hubbell ranked above Koufax. To throw out some more facts for Pro-Koufaxians: Regarding the stats shown in the Pro-Hubbell article wherein their peaks are compared: it leaves out their batting stats. Koufax from 59-66 produced -3.0 batting WAR, whereas Hubbell produced +.3. Therefore, Sandy is really at 43.7 to Hubbell’s 48.1. (Koufax had a -22 OPS+ compared to Carl’s 24 OPS+). Also, in the Pro-Koufax article… Read more »
Baltimorechop
Guest
I found my list of other high end peaks similar to Koufax. This list was made with just the last 4 super Koufax seasons, wherein he earns 34.9 pitching WAR, -1.2 hitting WAR for a 33.7 total in 4 years (averaging higher than 8 WAR a season, crazy). For those whose peaks looked longer than 4 years, I kept adding. The first number will be total war for 4 years, any numbers directly after with be for 5 or 6 years if the peak kept going. Numbers after in parentheses will show the hitting war for those numbers. Koufax: 33.7,… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor
Editor
Chop, I’ll admit to a bit of hyperbole with the stratosphere comment, but when I wrote it, I certainly wasn’t considering offensive contributions. Isolating pitching, which I think is fair given that pitching greatness is what would make Koufax (or Hubbell or Marichal) worthy of the Inner Circle, Koufax led Marichal by 3.7 WAR, or 9.9%. Less than a win per season may not seem like much, but in today’s baseball economy, that pays about $18.5 million on the free agent market (assuming the free agent market doesn’t care about pitcher batting numbers, and I don’t think it does). I… Read more »
Baltimorechop
Guest
I think it is pertinent considering how awful Sandy Koufax was at batting (minimum 502 PAs, I can only find 14 pitchers with a worse OPS+). I can slightly understand trying to say only pitching war matters when you’re ranking pitchers, but then you turn around and point out the dollar value of war. Maybe someone today would give Sandy $74 million more over 4 years than Juan, but they’d be a very poor business man. Marichal may’ve been worth 9.9% less pitching WAR, but he made up nearly every bit of that with his bat. While I do understand… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor
Editor

All valid points. My resistance is sort of guttural and hard to articulate, so I’ll point to Dan’s concession on the hitting front and shut up.

Baltimorechop
Guest

Confession time: it appears neither Hubbell nor Koufax were in my top 50.

If my hand-scrawled note is representative of the final e-mail I sent, my pitchers were:

Grove, Young, Johnson, Alexander, Nichols, Seaver, Niekro, Mathewson, Blyleven, Spahn, Plank, Carlton, Gibson & Roberts.

Perry, Feller (with war credit) and Waddell were next closest.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

So Feller gets war credit but Koufax doesn’t get deteriorated arm credit?

Great list. I had Koufax, Feller, Satch, & Smokey Joe in place of Niekro, Blyleven, Plank, & Roberts. Mostly differences in peak vs. longevity, which are perfectly valid given the nebulous definition of the Inner Circle.

Baltimorechop
Guest
war credit vs. injury credit is a great argument (whether to give 1, or the other, or both or neither). I find war credit easier to quantify since it’s usually (not always) years out of the middle of a career. You can see what they did prior to, and immediately after and try to fill in the blank. It’s tough to use speculation when ranking players, and some people won’t do it at all (whether war, injury or integration issues). That’s probably part of the reason that Feller & Mize are written in a special box on my top 50… Read more »
Ed
Guest

The other obvious difference between war and injury is that war is obviously extraneous to the individual and injury isn’t.

StrikeOne
Guest

Another “extended peak” example? Kevin Appier (1990-1997): 1643.2 IP, 140 ERA+, 44.5 WAR, 31.0 WAA.

Adam Darowski
Guest
I only know how to chime into this discussion in one way… More Valuable Pitcher: Carl Hubbell. Better Pitcher: Sandy Koufax. I know (in my heart, if saberists have those) that if Sandy Koufax had continued his career, he would have provided more value than Carl Hubbell. Therefore, I call him the “better pitcher”. But he didn’t. Therefore, Hubbell is the “more valuable pitcher”. I’m a bit of a skeptic of Hubbell’s ERA+ numbers after a recent finding. ERA+ doesn’t factor in defense. When writing about Hubbell and his #1 most similar player (Rick Reuschel), I noted: The two pitched… Read more »
Baltimorechop
Guest
Hubbell also pitched during a much higher offensive time. http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/bat.shtml is a spreadsheet of NL yearly stats (Rick was only in the AL for one year, so let’s just ignore that). The average OPS for Rick looks to be under .700 (only going above 5 times, maxing at .724) but well into .700s for Carl (only below 4 times, high of .808). Also, looking at runs per game, Hubbell’s average looks around 4.5 (twice above 5 rpg), but Rick’s would be right around 4 (only twice above 4.25) Not mathy enough to know how much of a difference this should… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
“if Sandy Koufax had continued his career, he would have provided more value than Carl Hubbell” Adam, I don’t mean to nitpick you, but I honestly don’t know what that means. As I understand the decision, Koufax retired because he was told that continuing to pitch would have risked permanent debilitating damage to his left arm. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Dodgers’ team physician had advised him to retire *before* the ’66 season. So I think that, after he’d ignored that advice and gone ahead and logged another 323 IP and 27 CG in ’66, how much more WAR… Read more »
Adam Darowski
Guest

I’m sorry, what I meant was “if Sandy Koufax was never hurt and could have continued his career”. My bad.

Doug
Editor
Adam, I tend to agree with John @ 13. Unless when you said “If Sandy Koufax had continued his career, he would have provided more value than Carl Hubbell.” you really meant “if Koufax’s arm had held up and allowed him to continue his career, …”. When we hear the horror stories of the after game and between start treatment Koufax didn’t receive, it seems a miracle his arm held up as long as it did. Dan showed how close the two looked over an 8-year peak period. To me, that seems rather long to be considered a peak. I… Read more »
Adam Darowski
Guest

Yeah, that’s what I meant. I just totally stated it poorly.

I would “go with Koufax” too, assuming we’re talking about who the better pitcher is. But the truth is, Hubbell simply provided more value. It’s all down to the injury.

Ross Carey
Guest
Their numbers are very similar that’s impossible to deny, but I think Koufax gets the edge because of the league and era he played in. Hubbell played in a fully segregated league, a league that existed before filming games for analysis was even a thing. A fully developed minor league system wasn’t even in place yet, and gambling (throwing games)was still somewhat common. I can say with confidence that had Koufax pitched in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s he would have been even better, and posted even more dominant numbers. I can’t say the same about Hubbell if he… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor
Editor

I love this argument, but now that I’ve seen your URL, Ross, I’m afraid people are going to think we’re in cahoots. For the record, I’ve never met Ross, but I agree wholeheartedly with his last paragraph. Vote Koufax/O’Connor!

John Autin
Editor

“Hub Fans Bid Koufax Adieu”

Jimbo
Guest

lol the fan elo rater has Jamie Moyer at 94 and Sandy Koufax at 97.

no statistician but
Guest
Top fifty HOFers. Let’s see . . . nine positions, so pitchers get how many? 5.555 by straight math, but pitchers deserve a few more so let’s say 9 or 10. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter J., Dazzy V, Lefty G, Pete Alexander, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson, Lefty C., Tom Seaver, Kid Nichols . . .. I’m sure I’m leaving out a couple, but throw in Maddox and Clemens and Pedro and where do either Hubble or Koufax stand? Not in my top 50. Koufax not in my top 100, good as he was. He ranks just about… Read more »
bstar
Guest
I totally agree here. How are Sandy Koufax and Carl Hubbell in anyone’s top 5 or 6 of all-time pitchers? I don’t get that at all. I’d put Walter Johnson, Maddux, Pedro, Christy Mathewson, Randy Johnson, Seaver, Clemens, etc. ahead of either one of these guys. I guess if your Inner Circle has 12 pitchers in it I can see one sneaking in, but that’s about it. Are either of these two one of the ten best pitchers ever? I also don’t understand why this argument has been reduced to a “who had the better peak” thing. Isn’t looking at… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Ooops. Guess I was thinking of the telescope. Hubble, anyone? And the wrong Maddux. Regardless, lots of pitchers in their own time were the guy “who you would pick to pitch one game,” (Mike L #31) such as Three Finger Brown who out-dueled Mathewson in his prime and had a 0.00 ERA in the 1907 and -08 Series, Lefty Grove, Bob Gibson in Koufax’s era. Whitey Ford during parts of his career was the go-to man, and he still, I believe, holds the record for consecutive WS shutouts and scoreless innings. Looking at baseball history overall is a fairly sizable… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Minor correction, nsb. Johnson played with two pennant winners, two second-place teams, and one third-place team that finished four games out.

Not to push too hard on Koufax (I wrote about him with enthusiasm below, but would also not include him in a 50-man Hall), but his big game performances in ’65 and ’66 pennant stretches – both tight races – were really exceptional (over two Septembers, 11-3, 11 CG, 5 SHO, 5 other ER=1); and his WS ERA over 57 IP was 0.95. He might give Johnson a run.

no statistician but
Guest

Johnson’s two pennant teams were in his 36th and 37th years, to me, at least, after his prime.

Dr. Doom
Guest
Smoltz had a deserved reputation as a big-game pitcher. Jack Morris had an undeserved one because of one game. Quite probably, it’s harder to develop a reputation as a “big-game” pitcher now because there are SO many more games. I mean, I don’t think it’s an accident that Gibson had that reputation, and that his career is one of the last to have been played in the pre-LCS era. The more game you have to pitch, the better the chance you’ll have one bad one. Add to that the changes in pitcher usage (fewer complete games), and it totally makes… Read more »
bstar
Guest

Good points. I’d throw out Dave Stewart of the A’s as another name from the late eighties that had that reputation, at least for a few years.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
In addition to pitchers’ ~35% representation in the Hall of Fame, as Dan mentions below, pitchers typically comprise 48% of modern regular-season rosters (12/25 spots). They’ve comprised at least 32% (8/25) for over a century. And per fangraphs, pitchers accumulated 40.7% of all WAR in 2012 (460.6/1130.4). I think it’s reasonable to have 12-18 pitchers in a 50-man Inner Circle. We were also limited to actual Hall of Famers in completing our ballots, so the Maddux/Clemens/Pedro group wasn’t eligible. Dan linked to my ballot in #48. I’d be interested to hear your case for Dazzy Vance over Hubbell (in particular)… Read more »
Baltimorechop
Guest

Quasi-tangential but…

Koufax pitched through his age 30 season, and Dazzy didn’t get a real shot until his age 31 season. Can you imagine if either had gotten to have full careers that matched each others?

A Koufax that got to pitch to age 44, with stats like Dazzy from 31 on? Or vice versa? Wasn’t there a post a while back about how Dazzy was the greatest statistical outlier ever on k/9?

mosc
Guest
I guess my mental process uses a graduated scale for yearly value in a career. If you put up the best season ever, that’s about 50% of what I need to see for a HOFer, career be damned. The best season in baseball that year, maybe ~20%. Koufax wasn’t just great. That’s not fair to how much better than the competition he was. There’s a big difference between “routinely a front line pitcher” and “the best pitcher in baseball”. I guess some guys attack this with a WAR above average number, I’d attack it with a WAR above the other… Read more »
Doug
Guest

One thing that really stands out for me about Hubbell are his raw ERA totals in his prime. 1.66, 2.30 and 2.31 in those years and that ballpark – remarkable. That 1.66 is better than any of Koufax’s raw ERAs in his prime. Hard not to be impressed.

Mike L
Guest

I have a hard time placing Koufax in the “inner circle” of Hall of Famers. I think we might mentally get caught up in the “who would you pick to pitch one game” which, by inference, refers to a player’s absolute peak. But career value, I don’t see Koufax there.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong here, but doesn’t ERA+ account for variance from the mean, but not standard deviation? Since the bottom end of ERA range is 0 and the top end is infinite, pitchers in a pitching rich era may get shortchanged by ERA+ because the bell curve of ERA’s gets compressed on the left side of the scale thus also compressing the standard deviation. The difference between an ERA of 2.00 and 2.5 may be greater in terms of standard deviation from the mean for a pitcher from the ’60’s than for a pitcher from… Read more »
bstar
Guest

No, ERA+ is simply a ratio, (lgERA/player ERA)x100. Park factors change what every pitcher’s lgERA is, so a pitcher pitching in a lower-offensive park will have a lower lgERA(lower numerically) than one pitching in a hitter-friendly park.

That’s all ERA+ is.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest

Right. That’s exactly what I said. Thank you for confirming.

bstar
Guest

Oh, my apologies. I took your first-sentence use of the word “variance” to imply the statistical definition of variance (since you also mentioned std. deviation).

That’s my bad! 🙂

John Autin
Editor
Bryan’s case for Koufax included this point: “Koufax pitched … at one of strongest times in National League history.” For sure, the NL was stronger than the AL during Koufax’s prime. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he faced tougher opposition than Hubbell from that particular angle. (The integration issue was cited separately.) Koufax’s last 5 years — 4 of his best years — came after expansion. And Koufax feasted on the expansion teams, going 31-4 with about a 1.67 ERA against the Mets and Astros combined. I’m splitting hairs, yes, but this is a hair-splitting debate. In the comparison… Read more »
bstar
Guest

Dan and Bryan, this is a fantastic idea for an article. We can use advanced metrics to talk about historically significant pitchers and argue who was better. This should be right in the wheelhouse of any HHS regular.

John Autin
Editor
To be clear, I do think Koufax had a better peak than Hubbell. On both WAR and WAA, he wins every set of “best N years” from 1 to 7, whether those years are consecutive or just best over all. But I’m just not sure I want to make an “inner circle” distinction on that basis. Yes, Koufax had 2 of the 20 10-WAR years in the live-ball era, had 2 more very good years (7+ WAR), and 2 more good years. Does that give him a clear leg up on a guy who pitched 50% more career innings with… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
This post inspired an element deja vu for me: when I was a teenager, Koufax was my favorite player, and I used to have to defend him against the argument for Hubbell, since Hubbell was my father’s favorite player. At the time I developed arguments in Koufax’s favor far more convincing to any I have seen since. It’s really too bad I forget what they were. They certainly crushed my father’s arguments. He was not sharp enough to recognize this fact. I’ve never considered the end of Koufax’s career a “what-if” – I believed he had nothing left, and I… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
epm: You’re absolutely right about the astonishment factor caused by the first 2/3 of Koufax’s 1962 season. I remember it well. The big question at season’s end was, could he keep it up in ensuing years, or 1) would he revert to the old Sandy; or 2) was it an anomalous burst of excellence; or 3) was the injury going to do him in? Well, he kept it up, to put it mildly, until a different problem did him in. If he had stayed healthy that year, I doubt the Giants would have had a chance to tie the Dodgers… Read more »
bstar
Guest
You’re right, that was a really good pro-Koufax argument. Well done, epm. And I enjoyed the personal, deja vu aspect of it as well. Still, you readily admit that both of your points about his prime are “what-if”-based, and can we really put Koufax’s prime amongst the very, very best in MLB history without them? I say no. Advanced metrics don’t really point to Koufax’s prime as being one of the very best ever. I think looking only at a four or five year stretch is unfair, but, if we’re going to do that, Koufax’s numbers should just be exploding… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
Enjoyable narrative, epm. But I’m not sure what this meant: “1962 was *before* the mound was lowered — the other great high-K pitchers of the ’60s … were not yet performing their ’60s feats..” First off, did you mean “raised” instead of “lowered”? Secondly, I’m not aware that there was a particular year for the raising of mounds in the ’60s, as from a rule change. My understanding is that teams just started doing it on their own, surreptitiously — and the Dodgers were said to be the most extreme in this regard. So absent any evidence, I’m not buying… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
John, “Lowered” meant “raised.” I was writing in code so that if HHS were hacked, no essential secrets would be compromised. My understanding differs from yours: teams certainly shape their grounds to get away with whatever they can – and perhaps that was the case in Chavez Ravine in ’62 – but I recall announcement of the raised mound as a rule change, and I confirmed my suspicion that this was after ’62 by poking around on the web. However, your certainty that there was no such rules change has now led me to make a second search, and although… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
e, I don’t mean to be the guy whose dry facts play “gotcha” to a cherished memory. But I yam what I yam. So: When I look at Sandy’s fantastic but abridged ’62 season in the context of the rest of his career, these things stand out: Although Koufax in ’62 was obviously more effective than ever before, he was already a SO legend just through ’61: – Koufax already owned the highest career SO/9 of any pitcher with 500+ IP (9.04 in over 900 IP), with Herb Score the only other pitcher at 8+ SO/9. (By the way, the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
No worries about facts vs. memories, John: I never let the first interfere with the second. And I’m happy to be the object of jealousy for a few Zelig moments, since I have little enough claim on anyone’s jealousy for earned accomplishments. (I have noticed, in any event, it’s clear that in the twenty or so years that you and I overlapped in Michigan, you attended many more interesting Tigers games than I.) You’re right that Koufax had become well known for K’s before ’62, but not yet for exceptional pitching quality overall. Your points about workload are well taken… Read more »
Brent
Guest
I don’t think this point has been raised, but let me post a paragraph about Hubbell from his bio at SABR: “Over the five year period from 1933 to 1937, Hubbell’s pitching excellence had been largely instrumental in bringing the Giants three pennants and a World Series victory. But these triumphs came at a price. In throwing a standard curveball, a left-handed pitcher twists his wrists to the left in a counter-clockwise motion, with the pitch breaking in to a left[sic, should be right]-handed batter. Hubbell’s screwball forced him to defy nature by twisting his wrist to the right, causing… Read more »
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