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  #1  
Old 07-09-2020, 04:44 PM
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Default Best lefty off all time? My vote is Koufax!

Not even close. This guy had a career that was basically only 10 years.... He won 3 Cy Youngs in just 4 years!, and he had 4 no hitters. His last 4 years he compiled a record of 97-25 with an ERA under 1.70! Plus, he was lights out in the post season.... He was a HOFer in his mid 30's!!

Last edited by CMIZ5290; 07-09-2020 at 04:47 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-09-2020, 05:13 PM
G1911 G1911 is offline
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Lefty Grove, and I don't think it's very close.

Grove is a good balance of peak dominance vs. career length. Koufax is a fairly short peak, for me. Grove won 9 ERA crowns, Koufax pitched 9 full seasons (and partial, non-qualifying years his first 3).

That Grove pitched in an extreme offense era hurts his counting stats, and I think this has held him back somewhat in the general consensus. His 3.06 ERA doesn't seem that impressive in and of itself for an old timer, but 9 ERA crowns and a 148 ERA+ career shows how dominant he was.

Honorable Mentions for Koufax, Spahn, Carlton, Ford, Randy Johnson, and Carl Hubbell who would probably come next on my list in some order. Without digging too deep, Spahn and Johnson would probably rank 2 and 3.
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  #3  
Old 07-09-2020, 05:46 PM
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I agree that Koufax did not have a long enough peak or career to be considered best of all time amongst lefties.

Clayton Kershaw had a similar 5 year run of dominance and ERA which is saying something with the current offense in the league.

My gut says Randy Johnson, but that is more gut than any deep dive into the question.

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  #4  
Old 07-09-2020, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcosta19 View Post
I agree that Koufax did not have a long enough peak or career to be considered best of all time amongst lefties.

Clayton Kershaw had a similar 5 year run of dominance and ERA which is saying something with the current offense in the league.

My gut says Randy Johnson, but that is more gut than any deep dive into the question.

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If Koufax had pitched as long as Randy Johnson, he probably would have had 8 or 9 no hitters and 8 or 9 Cy Youngs....
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Old 07-09-2020, 05:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMIZ5290 View Post
If Koufax had pitched as long as Randy Johnson, he probably would have had 8 or 9 no hitters and 8 or 9 Cy Youngs....
But he didnt.
Durability is an ability. Availability is an ability.

Did he have a better peak..yes definitely. But not a better career.

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  #6  
Old 07-09-2020, 05:58 PM
G1911 G1911 is offline
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Originally Posted by CMIZ5290 View Post
If Koufax had pitched as long as Randy Johnson, he probably would have had 8 or 9 no hitters and 8 or 9 Cy Youngs....
But he didn't. I don't think we can use what-if's as a reasonable basis of comparison, because we can then make any conclusion we like. If Walter Johnson had been left-handed, he'd be the best lefty ever.
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  #7  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:01 PM
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Also if Koufax had the benefit of modern medicine he probably would have been the best lefty if all time.

I do love this debate and I'm actually a huge Koufax fan, but Don Mattingly would be a 1st ballot HOFer if we just looked at 4 or 5 years.

That's just my opinion obviously.

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  #8  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:03 PM
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I'll go with Lefty Grove.
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  #9  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:07 PM
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Rube Waddell is my pick. He was a HOFer without them but imagine what he could have put together with all his faculties. Strike out king 6 years in a row. Out of the game at 33. Only threw two pitches.
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  #10  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcosta19 View Post
I agree that Koufax did not have a long enough peak or career to be considered best of all time amongst lefties.

Clayton Kershaw had a similar 5 year run of dominance and ERA which is saying something with the current offense in the league.

My gut says Randy Johnson, but that is more gut than any deep dive into the question.
I'd agree with this. Kershaw and Koufax are similar, they are also within 50 innings pitched. I'd place Kershaw over Koufax.
Kershaw has more wins, strikeouts, lower ERA, and same number of Cy Young Awards. Plus his ERA+ is way higher. 157 to 131.

Randy Johnson longevity and performance during the steroid era
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  #11  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:17 PM
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Koufax gets my vote. The best pitcher I ever saw. His curveball was sick
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  #12  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:18 PM
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Lefty Grove, and I don't think it's very close.

Grove is a good balance of peak dominance vs. career length. Koufax is a fairly short peak, for me. Grove won 9 ERA crowns, Koufax pitched 9 full seasons (and partial, non-qualifying years his first 3).

That Grove pitched in an extreme offense era hurts his counting stats, and I think this has held him back somewhat in the general consensus. His 3.06 ERA doesn't seem that impressive in and of itself for an old timer, but 9 ERA crowns and a 148 ERA+ career shows how dominant he was.

Honorable Mentions for Koufax, Spahn, Carlton, Ford, Randy Johnson, and Carl Hubbell who would probably come next on my list in some order. Without digging too deep, Spahn and Johnson would probably rank 2 and 3.
You’re right, it’s Grove and not very close.
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Old 07-09-2020, 06:18 PM
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Forgot to add that Koufax had virtually no run support
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Old 07-09-2020, 06:35 PM
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Randy Johnson is the best lefty in my lifetime.
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  #15  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:52 PM
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Kevin

As a young dude, I saw Koufax pitch (1955 - 1966), and I agree with you in the post-WWII era.


In the era between WWI and WWII, then my guy is....…





And, in the pre-WWI era, there were no better southpaws than the guy from Gettysburg...…




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  #16  
Old 07-09-2020, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMIZ5290 View Post
Not even close. This guy had a career that was basically only 10 years.... He won 3 Cy Youngs in just 4 years!, and he had 4 no hitters. His last 4 years he compiled a record of 97-25 with an ERA under 1.70! Plus, he was lights out in the post season.... He was a HOFer in his mid 30's!!
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  #17  
Old 07-09-2020, 07:06 PM
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Depending on one's criteria, Steve Carlton could be in the conversation couldn't he?

Last edited by boysblue; 07-09-2020 at 07:06 PM.
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  #18  
Old 07-09-2020, 07:38 PM
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Peak it would be Koufax. I think it's very difficult to argue against that. Career? Lefty Grove or Steve Carlton. I think what weighs in Carlton's favor is that he played against integrated competition as opposed to Grove who didn't. But the argument could favor Grove in the sense that because there were less teams, Grove played against a more concentrated talent pool.
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  #19  
Old 07-09-2020, 07:39 PM
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My vote is for Randy Johnson. He was an absolute beast, but often times seemed to be (many times, unfairly so) overshadowed by Greg Maddux.
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  #20  
Old 07-09-2020, 08:46 PM
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There are a number of greats, including Warren Spahn. But in regard to Koufax, it's absolutely ridiculous to shrug him off for not having a long enough career. He was more than a great pitcher - he was a phenomenon. His peak may have been brief, but he was around long enough.

Stats don't tell the whole story as we know. Andy Pettitte, a lefty, had 256 wins. Big deal. A decent pitcher, but you can't compare him to Koufax.

If Koufax had had only one good season, then I could see the longevity argument. But as I said before, he was around long enough. And during that time he forever made his mark on the game. Koufax is one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived.

Last edited by jgannon; 07-09-2020 at 08:50 PM.
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  #21  
Old 07-09-2020, 08:51 PM
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There are a number of greats, including Warren Spahn. But in regard to Koufax, it's absolutely ridiculous to shrug him off for not having a long enough career. He was more than a great pitcher - he was a phenomenon. His peak may have been brief, but he was around long enough.

Stats don't tell the whole story as we know. Andy Pettitte, a lefty, had 256 wins. Big deal. A decent pitcher, but you can't compare him to Koufax.

If Koufax had had only one good season, then I could see the longevity argument. But as I said before, he was around long enough. And during that time he forever made his mark on the game. Koufax is one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived.
If no other lefty had had a great peak, then I would accept this. Kershaw is at least equal to Koufax though, and Grove's 9 ERA crowns is one hell of a peak neither of the Dodgers have hit, plus he hurled 4,000 innings. When there are other options who are not good pitchers for a long time, like Pettite, but guys like Grove, Plank, Carlton, Spahn, Randy Johnson, I have a really hard time seeing how Koufax tops them by any reasonable standard.
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  #22  
Old 07-09-2020, 09:01 PM
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I have heard the Dodgers would make sure of a nice high pitchers mound. After Koufax retired, MLB overall lowered their mound to a universal lower height.
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  #23  
Old 07-09-2020, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
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If no other lefty had had a great peak, then I would accept this. Kershaw is at least equal to Koufax though, and Grove's 9 ERA crowns is one hell of a peak neither of the Dodgers have hit, plus he hurled 4,000 innings. When there are other options who are not good pitchers for a long time, like Pettite, but guys like Grove, Plank, Carlton, Spahn, Randy Johnson, I have a really hard time seeing how Koufax tops them by any reasonable standard.
I'm not arguing that Koufax was "the best". I'm just saying he belongs in the debate. I've seen film of Koufax, but of course, tragically the games back then weren't preserved. But I never of course, saw Lefty Grove, so I really can't comment on somebody like him. The other pitchers you're talking about were all great pitchers. Everyone can make their case for them. But Koufax is in the conversation or there is no conversation, in my opinion.

Last edited by jgannon; 07-09-2020 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:04 PM
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Grove! Look at his best 5-year run against Koufax's, then remind yourself Grove's peak was during the biggest hitter's era ever, Koufax during 2nd deadball era.

IMHO, what Grove did in 1931 might be the greatest pitching season ever.

Last edited by earlywynnfan; 07-11-2020 at 07:26 PM. Reason: wrong date
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
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Depending on one's criteria, Steve Carlton could be in the conversation couldn't he?
Carlton should get some love. I also think he lead the league in facial contortions on the mound for a number of years too.
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  #26  
Old 07-09-2020, 09:33 PM
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Warren Spahn. Hands down.
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  #27  
Old 07-09-2020, 10:02 PM
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Testing...1,2,3...
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  #28  
Old 07-09-2020, 10:53 PM
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Kershaw has the lowest ERA of any starter in the live ball era. He has a good case.

Koufax was only great with a super-high mound, expanded strike zone, and Dodger Stadium. Look at his Non-Dodger Stadium stats. He has no case.

Lefty Grove dominated for a long time AFTER B being held or of the majors longer than he should have been. He has a great case.

Steve Carlton won 4 CYAs and was generally awesome. He has a great case.

Randy Johnson put up ridiculous numbers for a long time. 5 CYAs but also tanked half a season to force a trade. He has a great case.

My pick would be Lefty Grove.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:28 PM
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Steve Carlton has no case. His lifetime numbers were the left-handed version of Phil Niekro. Other than his 1972 season, Carlton's Cy Young awards were based on how both guys' best years gave you a 23-10 record pitching for that era's great Phillies teams but a 20-17 record for the Braves then.

Obviously a great pitcher, but not the maybe best of all time lefty caliber of his reputation.

Plus, Randy Johnson's career is clearly superior to Carlton's. A higher lifetime WAR despite pitching more than 1000 fewer innings. Carlton's lifetime ERA is barely better, despite Johnson pitching during the steroid era and half his career in the AL. And Johnson still got to 300 wins in a five-man rotation era.

You can argue Grove, Kershaw, Johnson, maybe Spahn, maybe Plank, maybe a prime Koufax. Obviously it's so tough to compare the different generations.

Oh and as far as Koufax, it's a myth that he may have been so mediocre away from Dodger stadium. 86-46 with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP on the road lifetime. Not too shabby.

Last edited by cardsagain74; 07-09-2020 at 11:32 PM.
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  #30  
Old 07-10-2020, 06:46 AM
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Kershaw is 49.6 innings behind Koufax.
To match Koufax he would have to do the following over his next 49.6 innings.
Lose 13 games
Give up 39 hits and walk 240 batters.
31 of those hits need to be HR's
Give up 96 Earned Runs, resulting in a nifty 17.12 ERA

And he'd still have more wins and strikeouts than Koufax. Keep in mind the difference of eras too. Koufax played in a pitching era and Kershaw in a hitter's era.
Same number of Cy Young Awards. Kershaw has 7 top 5 finishes in the award voting, Koufax has 4.

Maybe we tend to honor the baseball from the past more because we dig vintage baseball cards. But the numbers don't lie, Kershaw is better than the left arm of God.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/p...ershcl01.shtml
https://www.baseball-reference.com/p...oufasa01.shtml
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Last edited by brewing; 07-10-2020 at 06:48 AM.
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  #31  
Old 07-10-2020, 07:21 AM
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I'd agree with this. Kershaw and Koufax are similar, they are also within 50 innings pitched. I'd place Kershaw over Koufax.
Kershaw has more wins, strikeouts, lower ERA, and same number of Cy Young Awards. Plus his ERA+ is way higher. 157 to 131.

Randy Johnson longevity and performance during the steroid era
Kershaw wasn't able to pitch under pressure. The game is played to win championships and Kershaw has cost his team. Koufax has 2 WS MVPs plus a career postseason ERA under 1. ERA+ is a flawed stat to base an argument on. It is as much a product of the quality of pitchers in your league as anything. Pitchers in weak eras like Grove and Kershaw are going to look better than they really were. Koufax is the best, even with his shorter career, the combination of being great in the regular season and even greater in the postseason can't be match by any other lefty.
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Old 07-10-2020, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewing View Post
Kershaw is 49.6 innings behind Koufax.
To match Koufax he would have to do the following over his next 49.6 innings.
Lose 13 games
Give up 39 hits and walk 240 batters.
31 of those hits need to be HR's
Give up 96 Earned Runs, resulting in a nifty 17.12 ERA

And he'd still have more wins and strikeouts than Koufax. Keep in mind the difference of eras too. Koufax played in a pitching era and Kershaw in a hitter's era.
Same number of Cy Young Awards. Kershaw has 7 top 5 finishes in the award voting, Koufax has 4.

Maybe we tend to honor the baseball from the past more because we dig vintage baseball cards. But the numbers don't lie, Kershaw is better than the left arm of God.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/p...ershcl01.shtml
https://www.baseball-reference.com/p...oufasa01.shtml
You forgot pitch 3 no hitters, win 4 WS rings, 2 WS MVPs and somhow allow negative runs to bring his postseason ERA from 4.43 to .95.
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  #33  
Old 07-10-2020, 07:28 AM
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Nice Plank, Ted
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  #34  
Old 07-10-2020, 07:32 AM
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Grove! Look at his best 5-year run against Koufax's, then remind yourself Grove's peak was during the biggest hitter's era ever, Koufax during 2nd deadball era.

IMHO, what Grove did in 1941 might be the greatest pitching season ever.
Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Willie Stargell, Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Frank Robinson and Pete Rose would disagree that the 1930s were the biggest hitter's era. The 1950s & 1960s were at least equal if not greater. There was just a lot better pitching.
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Old 07-10-2020, 07:36 AM
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Depending on one's criteria, Steve Carlton could be in the conversation couldn't he?
I agree.
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  #36  
Old 07-10-2020, 07:51 AM
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You forgot pitch 3 no hitters, win 4 WS rings, 2 WS MVPs and somhow allow negative runs to bring his postseason ERA from 4.43 to .95.
No I didn't. While no hitters are impressive having them vs not having them isn't that big of a deal to me. Just like championships in a team sport.

Koufax was amazing during the World Series. I never said Koufax wasn't great. Even if Kershaw has been pedestrian like in the playoffs, the far superior regular season performance of over 2200 innings means more to me.

I did forget to leave out his ERA+ which helps highlight the different eras they pitched in.
Kershaw is 157 2nd highest All Time
Koufax is 131

Others mentioned
Grove 148
Randy Johnson 135
Plank 122
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  #37  
Old 07-10-2020, 09:35 AM
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No I didn't. While no hitters are impressive having them vs not having them isn't that big of a deal to me. Just like championships in a team sport.

Koufax was amazing during the World Series. I never said Koufax wasn't great. Even if Kershaw has been pedestrian like in the playoffs, the far superior regular season performance of over 2200 innings means more to me.

I did forget to leave out his ERA+ which helps highlight the different eras they pitched in.
Kershaw is 157 2nd highest All Time
Koufax is 131

Others mentioned
Grove 148
Randy Johnson 135
Plank 122
When you can’t pitch well against the best teams in the postseason, you shouldn’t even be in the discussion in my opinion. The only thing that matters is winning championships, not dominating bad teams pitching 6 or 7 innings. Kershaw has only has 25 complete games in 12 seasons. Koufax pitched 27 complete games in 1965 alone. Then he pitched 27 more complete games in 1966. Kershaw’s regular season really isn’t even superior since he is letting someone else pitch the most difficult innings when a pitcher is tiring. Make Kershaw pitch 27 complete games in a season and let’s see what his ERA would be.

The pitcher controls the ball on defense. Despite being a team sport, it is the pitcher that can win a championship. Just look at 1965 when the World Series was tied at 2-2. Koufax went out and pitched shutouts in game 5 and game 7. Why can’t Kershaw do that even once to bring the Dodgers a championship? The Dodgers have been good enough to make the postseason 9 times and are 0-9 because Kershaw has pitched poorly.

ERA+ just tells me how weak the pitching was in those eras. They weren’t competing against Spahn, Gibson, Marichal, Bunning, Perry and Sutton.

Last edited by rats60; 07-10-2020 at 09:46 AM.
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  #38  
Old 07-10-2020, 09:49 AM
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I always thought it was Lefty Grove who, in 1930, pitched a quadruple-crown leading MLB in Wins, ERA, Strikeputs, and Saves.

Decided to look it up in Baseball Refenence. They have pitching WAR. Grove was the best lefty at about 9% greater than Randy Johnson. Koufax didn’t make the top 20.

Grove also had a better 4-year streak than Koufax, although I don’t know why people use that as a metric
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  #39  
Old 07-10-2020, 09:54 AM
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I find it extremely odd to see it argued that playing in a high offense era should somehow hurt a pitchers all time ranking, and that guys like Koufax who played in the easiest possible circumstances (pitching park, on a high mound, during a deadball era) must be better because there were many other great pitchers then. Dominating in tougher circumstances should be an advantage.


As for the 4 year peak arguments, I think this appears solely because it is the only way to try and argue Sandy (even though Grove and Kershaw both have equal or better peaks and better overall careers) is #1.
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Old 07-10-2020, 10:08 AM
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I like Spahn and Carlton
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1971 Pirates Ticket Quest:
81 of 153 regular season stubs (53%), 14 of 14 1971 ALCS, NLCS , and World Series stubs (100%)

If you have any 1971 Pirate regular season game stubs (home or away games) please let me know what have!
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  #41  
Old 07-10-2020, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rats60 View Post
When you can’t pitch well against the best teams in the postseason, you shouldn’t even be in the discussion in my opinion. The only thing that matters is winning championships, not dominating bad teams pitching 6 or 7 innings. Kershaw has only has 25 complete games in 12 seasons. Koufax pitched 27 complete games in 1965 alone. Then he pitched 27 more complete games in 1966. Kershaw’s regular season really isn’t even superior since he is letting someone else pitch the most difficult innings when a pitcher is tiring. Make Kershaw pitch 27 complete games in a season and let’s see what his ERA would be.

The pitcher controls the ball on defense. Despite being a team sport, it is the pitcher that can win a championship. Just look at 1965 when the World Series was tied at 2-2. Koufax went out and pitched shutouts in game 5 and game 7. Why can’t Kershaw do that even once to bring the Dodgers a championship? The Dodgers have been good enough to make the postseason 9 times and are 0-9 because Kershaw has pitched poorly.

ERA+ just tells me how weak the pitching was in those eras. They weren’t competing against Spahn, Gibson, Marichal, Bunning, Perry and Sutton.
You win! Can I count you in to join my campaign to get Mickey Lolich into the Hall of Fame. His World Series performance against the defending World Champs in 1968 was amazing.
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  #42  
Old 07-10-2020, 10:21 AM
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Testing...1,2,3...
I posted a 1982 Fleer Fernando Valenzuela last night to check if pics were working. For some reason it disappeared. Not a big deal, just pointing it out for the folks working on the board.

"Strike Out King". Fernando-mania was a big deal in the early eighties...Rob
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  #43  
Old 07-10-2020, 10:42 AM
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Warren Spahn won 363 games, most by a modern day pitcher. He also lost 3 years to military service. It's possible he would have won 400 games. He had thirteen 20 win seasons. I realize today's metrics don't value wins, but Spahn was incredible. He wasn't flashy. Maybe that's why he gets so little support.
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  #44  
Old 07-10-2020, 10:45 AM
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43 posts and only three mentioned Warren Spahn!

I have always been a Koufax fan, but he is only the lefty GOAT for Peak Value.

Kershaw, at this point, would be second, IMO, for shorter careers, but Randy Johnson's peak value edges his.

Grove, Spahn and Johnson are tied, in my view, for Career Value Lefty GOAT..

...with Carlton just a tick below.


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Last edited by clydepepper; 07-10-2020 at 10:47 AM.
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  #45  
Old 07-10-2020, 10:57 AM
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Johnson for sure.

What if's don't count in my mind because then I give Johnson Koufax's park and higher mound and he get's more dominant..

6' 10" off a 15" 60's mound?

Ouch.
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  #46  
Old 07-11-2020, 05:40 PM
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Rube waddell is who I'm going with as the best lefty
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  #47  
Old 07-11-2020, 06:38 PM
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Oh and as far as Koufax, it's a myth that he may have been so mediocre away from Dodger stadium. 86-46 with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP on the road lifetime. Not too shabby.
The "road" doesn't quite cover things fully. Here's the numbers:

Sandy at Dodger Stadium: 57-15, 715.1 IP, 109 ER, 1.37 ERA
Everywhere else: 108-72, 1609 IP, 604 ER, 3.38 ERA

Now, to be fair, Koufax pitched at LA Coliseum a fair bit and that was horrendous for lefties. He got lit up there - 17-23 with a 4.33 ERA. So let's exclude that.

So now we get: 91-49, 1264 IP, 438 ER, 3.12 ERA. That's good but not exactly out of this world other than the W-L. But that's basically 5 seasons of 18-10 with a 3.12 ERA. Not HOF-level. Heck, one year during Koufax's hot run from 63-66, the entire NL had an ERA of 3.29.

When you add in the fact he has the fewest IP of any starter in the HOF - even Dennis Eckersley, who got in as a reliever, has 900 more innings - the numbers just aren't kind to Koufax.

Last edited by Tabe; 07-11-2020 at 06:39 PM.
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  #48  
Old 07-11-2020, 07:01 PM
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Nice Plank, Ted
Hello Mike

Great to hear from you....and, thanks for the compliment.


Regarding Plank, it surprises me that I'm the only one here who regards him as the best Left-handed pitcher. And, I base this on what I read in Connie Mack's biography.
Gettysburg Eddie was one cool guy on the mound who combined his mind with his natural talent to achieve a very effective 17-year career. He had 8 seasons in which he
won 20+ games (26 - 6 in 1912 with an ERA = 2.22 was his best year).

Won-Lost 326 - 194
Career ERA = 2.35

In post #15, I named three Lefty's who were the best with respect to the eras they pitched in. But, if I had to choose only one of them, it would certainly be Eddie Plank.

And for those of you, who get carried away with this ambiguous "new-speak" term, "WAR"....Plank's number (91) is up there with the best of the Southpaw's.


TED Z

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  #49  
Old 07-11-2020, 07:05 PM
jakebeckleyoldeagleeye jakebeckleyoldeagleeye is offline
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Yes #32 but have Carlton second as he also had some pop in his bat.
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  #50  
Old 07-11-2020, 07:10 PM
jgannon jgannon is offline
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The players who had to hit against Koufax would tell you just how great he was. This conversation of how great he was reminds me of Sam Neill in "Jurassic Park" trying to deal with the kid who doesn't think the velociraptor was anything to be taken seriously.

Last edited by jgannon; 07-11-2020 at 07:10 PM.
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