Most Dominant Pitching Season Ever?: Sandy Koufax
This is a second in series of posts exploring which starting pitcher had the best year ever and when. I got things started with Pedro Martinez’s 2000 campaign. Today we will look at Sandy Koufax. It’s hard to choose which season to pick from between 1963-1966, although his 1962 season was quite good, too. It may be the four most dominant years in a row for any starting pitcher in the modern era, or maybe even ever. Those four years are what got him in the Hall of Fame.
For our purposes today, I think I will go with his 1963 season. Here they are folks:
WAR (wins above replacement): 10.7
An argument could be made that this wasn’t his most dominant season. He had a lower ERA in two other years, higher ERA+ in other years and a lower WHIP in another year. However, what sold me on 1963 was his 11 shutouts. That just says dominant.
As good as this year was, I am not sure it can beat Pedro’s year in 2000. Obviously, Koufax had seven more wins. However, Koufax pitched in 11 more games due to the four-man rotations back then. The same thing could be said for the fact that Koufax had more complete games because he pitched in an era where pitch counts were not obsessed over and bullpens were not yet specialized. We can’t hold that against Koufax, of course, but it should be considered. The same goes with the fact that Koufax was pitching on a higher mound (they lowered it five inches after the 1968 season) and did not have to contend with juiced-up hitters (again, assuming Pedro wasn’t taking anything). Koufax did not have to face a lineup with the DH, either. One fact in Koufax’s favor was that he was pitching before a few rounds of expansion.
In the end, I am going to have to stick with Martinez’s 2000 season as the best so far. However, we will be looking at other seasons in the coming weeks.