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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sandy Koufax

Eligible in 1972.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 05, 2006 at 10:05 PM | 337 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. alilisd Posted: September 04, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4534132)
i would get to see a tiger game close to once a week.


Oh, sorry, Jimmy, you are completely unqualified to evaluate the Tigers then as you didn't see them enough. Thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you. :-)
   302. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4534143)
please - you are bordering on the ridiculous !!

i knew the tiger team well enough to make strategies.

in fact, after the 5th game, i immediately told my dad that the only way we had a chance to win the series is put lolich in against gibson.

which meant he would only have 2 days rest. while mclain would have to come in with 2 days rest, if we went with him, he had only pitched a few innings before he got bombed out.

but whether mclain or someone else pitched game 6, was just a chance that we had to take.

it did not help to win game 6, if there was no chance to win game 7.

but it was a somewhat radical thing to do. and neither my dad nor i thought that mayo smith would really do it.

like i said, the only smart thing i ever recall him doing !!
   303. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 04, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4534151)
because of mclain's record in 1968, it is probably commonly believed by at least many non-tiger fans that mclain was better than lolich that year.

on this i want to be absolutely clear. there was never a time that mclain was anywhere near the pitcher than lolich was. and you would never hear a tiger player say any different.


Ok, now I'm leaning Troll...

Sure Lolich later became the Tigers' ace- after McLain vaporised

but back in 67-69?
McLain came before Lolich in the rotation
McLain threw far more innings and had far more complete games (Oh noes - stats)

In the World Series- sure Lolich won 3 games and the WS MVP- which I assume is deeply coloring your perception- but McLain started game 1, and he started game 6- with the Tigers facing elimination

plus I was around for the 70s, - even when McLain WAS the Tigers ace he was not seen as AN ACE- McLain before he was injured most certainly was- and long ago I'd read a bio on Freehan- he most certainly regarded McLain as that team's ace- so basically I call BS.
   304. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4534191)
it wasnt deeply considering my perception at all.

i knew lolich was better way before the 68 series. he was better the whole year.

like i said, you had to watch the games.

everything went perfectly for mclain in 68, to get those wins.

but most of you guys only knew about the win loss records. you didnt see these guys pitch !!

for example, me and my dad were sitting in the stands for the following game.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CAL/CAL196809100.shtml

again, you stat guys are only looking at stats. and i am telling you for the ten thousandth time, YOU GOTTA SEE IT !!!

cuz, we should never have won this game. the angels hit rockets all night long. several to the warning track. some were foul balls. some were right at fielders.

we thought we were at a fireworks show, when the angels batted. and yet they only got 2 runs.

this is how it was for mclain all year long. truly, if you had seen the games, you would have thought he had a guardian angel.

he never had the talent that one would expect from a 31-game winner.

oh right, i forgot - lolich seemed to magically come up with the talent when the world series came on. he just happened to get good enough with 2 days rest, to come in and blank the cards, and beat gibson.

i am a big lolich fan, cuz i watched him pitch, and i knew what he could do, BECAUSE I WATCHED HIM.

you know that funny sort of thing that somehow escapes many of the posters here.
   305. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4534255)
i am a big lolich fan, cuz i watched him pitch, and i knew what he could do, BECAUSE I WATCHED HIM.

So, under your theory we have no idea if Babe Ruth was great, since effectively, no one who saw him is still alive?
   306. Ron J2 Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4534267)
#304 Anybody who thought Lolich was better in 1968 was simply a fanboy. Lolich wasn't even a league average starter in 1968. A 3.19 ERA just wasn't very good.

Now what's interesting is that he lost his spot in the rotation at the beginning of August (on merit). At that point he was 7-7 with an ERA of 3.61 (and had just been shelled)

After getting back into the rotation he pitched quite a bit better. 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA in his final 9 starts. Of course in the same time frame McClain was also 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 75 Ks in 75 IP. In other words, for most of the season McClain was significantly better. When you match Lolich's best stretch up against McClain, McClain still pitched better.
   307. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4534269)
i am a big lolich fan, cuz i watched him pitch, and i knew what he could do, BECAUSE I WATCHED HIM.
Heh. My generally impression of this site is that the members watch an enormous amount of ballgames, including those that don't involve the teams they root for.
   308. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4534270)
no, i would not go that far. to some degree, stats can at least get you in the right direction.

but i will say that i dont think any of us know how good ruth was or wasnt. but that also means he may have been even better than we think. it can work both ways. probably not true in ruth's case, because of his personality and character and ability to bring attention to himself.

unfortunately, a person's reputation far outlasts his reality.

this is true for all famous people - i am not just directing it at sports players.

but for example, lets say i am the mgr of some pro team. and i am trying to decide if i should take my pitcher out ?

in most cases, especially if we are talking a good pitcher, i will ask my pitcher if he still has his stuff. of course, i gotta know my pitchers - will he give me an honest answer ?

but when i examine the situation, it is not about runs scored, or hits made. you cant change history.

what one is trying to do is ascertain the likelihood of the future. and the best way of determining whether the opposing batters will hit my pitcher in future innings is to look at how hard my pitcher is being hit.

are these squib singles, followed by one big hit ? or are all the hitters taking vicious rips and smacking the ball around ? even if they are foul balls. or for the most part, are these batters getting fooled by many of the pitches, taking so-so swings, etc.

you simply need to watch the game. you cant look at stats to answer the types of questions necessary to make the best possible decision for your team.

the only baseball player i "liked" in a truly personal way was al kaline. i started liking him cuz my dad liked him. he was important to me, in the sense that a friend was important to me.

but in every other case, i "liked" a player, cuz i was a young boy amazed at something the player did. i liked mccovey cuz he was this ferocious hitter. i liked lolich cuz he could do the job. when he was on the mound, my confidence was sky high - cuz i thought we would win.

   309. AROM Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4534271)
McClain wasn't that great of a pitcher before 1968, nor was he very good after 1969. So I can believe it if you tell me that he was very, very lucky that season.

What kinds of pitches did Denny and Mickey throw, how good where those pitches, how well did they command those pitches? Stuff like that would be greatly appreciated. I understand you saw them pitch. Duly noted. No need to repeat it, much less IN ALL CAPS.

Oh, and in looking up Lolich on baseball-reference I see one stat that is totally wrong. He's listed at 6'1, 170 pounds. Most likely with only one foot on the scale.
   310. BDC Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4534277)
Bill Freehan's memoir Behind the Mask (1970) raves about McLain's brilliance in 1968-69. I don't remember him saying much about Lolich at all, though it's been a while since I read the book. Freehan's take was that, for a little while at least, McLain could do just about anything he wanted on the mound.

Just one more observer, but he had a pretty good view :)
   311. Eric L Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4534282)
My impression is that it is very difficult to not engage with trolls. Can he make it any clearer?
   312. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4534283)
So, under your theory we have no idea if Babe Ruth was great, since effectively, no one who saw him is still alive?


There's that, there's also the problem that I saw the Fat Man pitch (Lolich, not Wells, but I''ve seen Wells pitch too), and Lolich was not "ace" even using the SBB definition, he was a workhorse sure, but he had no more arm or inetestinal fortitude than the next guy.

Jimmy kind of reminds me of all the Jets fans jumping on the Matt Simms bandwagon after he played half decently in one (1) preseason game- the fact that he played himself OUT of two college QB jobs- and prior to last week had taken exact;y ZERO professional snaps (aside from being on the practice squad)- has them all atwitter- because they saw him play for 3 quarters and he wasn't terrible in THOSE three quarters-

well yeah so? Sanchez has had better NFL games- when they counted too- was much better in college-and Sanchez quite frankly sucks as a starting NFL Quarterback.

EVERYONE has seen a game where a pitcher gets hit hard but gets away with it
EVERYONE has seen a game where a pitcher look unhittable, but loses anyway

And you know what? Every pitcher has that happen to them.

So Jimmy saw a game where 31-6 Denny McLain got hit hard but won anyway, therefore Lolich was better, even though McLain had 20 more complete games (come on Jimmy why were they leaving McLain in and not Lolich?), even though McLain pitched 116 more inings and had an ERA more than a full run lower (Yikes Jimmy, I know you don't like math, but how many games would McLain needed to have been lucky like the game you saw for that to happen?), how did McLain walk less men than Lolich did? (were the umps in the bag for McLain?)
McLain was 2nd in the league in strikeouts (3 less than McDowell)- point being that sometimes he wasn't getting hard hit outs- some times they weren't hitting him at all.

But oops, strikeouts are stats, can't use those.



   313. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4534287)
My impression is that it is very difficult to not engage with trolls. Can he make it any clearer?


I'll give him this, he's kicked some life into this (and some others) HOM thread.
   314. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4534294)
deleted
   315. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4534295)
LOL - yea, he was pretty chubby.

i dont recall what sorts of pitches they threw. i am not a pitcher, so i dont know that i could ever have given you an answer to that.

i dont doubt that the announcers would call out fast ball, curve, slider, whatever. but i certainly would not recall that sort of detail. and it wasnt important to me. the only thing i cared about was getting my opposing batters out. the guy who did that the best, is the guy i liked the best. and if they were all taking vicious swings, my jimmy frustration factor got pretty high. cuz you knew it was only a matter of time before the bomb fell.

but in terms of "command" - that is what i liked about lolich that i did not like about mclain.

now everyone has bad days, including koufax. but for the most part, command is what gives a person confidence in his pitcher.

and lolich usually had command of the situation. and the longer the game went, the better he got.

boy, if ever there was such a thing as a workhorse, lolich would be very high on the list.

i am sorry that i dont have the details that you would prefer. after 4 years, i recall major conclusions, but not much of the supporting detail.
   316. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4534298)
btw, in 68 they were televising a ton of tiger games cuz they were in the lead. and almost every mclain game, cuz he was chasing the record.

the game at the stands was not only game that i saw mclain pitch.

and as i stated earlier, so many good things happened for him during his streak, that it did appear as if guardian angels really existed.
   317. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4534301)
i dont recall what sorts of pitches they threw. i am not a pitcher, so i dont know that i could ever have given you an answer to that.

Wait? What?!?!

You claim to be an expert of the relative performance of McLain and Lolich in 1968, and you don't know what pitches they threw?

Hell, I was 7 years old in 1978 and I can tell you Ron Guidry was a fastball/slider pitcher. Pretty sure he had two variant of the slider.
   318. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4534307)
i dont recall what sorts of pitches they threw.

were they gonna get the batter out or not ?

that was what was important. that is what stays in my memory.

i wouldnt have cared if he lobbed the dang thing underhanded, if no one could hit it.
   319. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 04, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4534312)
Hell, I was 7 years old in 1978 and I can tell you Ron Guidry was a fastball/slider pitcher. Pretty sure he had two variant of the slider.


Guidry had the nastiest slider on earth, very distinctive delivery too- no one else quite like it, until
2002- Oliver Perez as a rookie- saw him pitch, bolted up in my chair, thought it was the reincarnation of 1978 Guidry- and filthy slider to boot...
later as a Met Perez's delivery no longer looked anything like Guidry... I don't think any pitcher's career has disappointed me as much as Perez's (ok Gooden's)
   320. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4534314)
the only thing i cared about was winning the game.

and if my pitcher was in control of the situation, in the sense that the hitters were not getting good swings at the ball - that was about all i could expect from any pitcher.

lolich did that very well, in most cases.

anyways, i am happy to make comments if i could help out.

but i dont think i am helping any of you guys.

so unless there is some question that i can specifically answer for you that i think will make the situation more clear, i wont waste your time any more.

i will still check the thread for awhile, so i am not running away.

but i want it to have some sort of merit to it, such that i think someone is gaining some benefit from it.
   321. Steve Treder Posted: September 04, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4534326)
Bill Freehan's memoir Behind the Mask (1970) raves about McLain's brilliance in 1968-69. I don't remember him saying much about Lolich at all, though it's been a while since I read the book. Freehan's take was that, for a little while at least, McLain could do just about anything he wanted on the mound.

I remember that book! I too don't recall Freehan saying much about Lolich. I do recall him saying quite distinctly that McLain's fastball velocity evaporated over the course of the 1969 season (the book is a daily "diary" of the '69 season, almost identical in form to Ball Four, but not similar at all in tone and content), but Freehan was amazed at the way in which McLain's pinpoint control and general ballsiness allowed him to go 24-9 and co-win the Cy Young Award anyway.
   322. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4534330)
the only thing i cared about was winning the game.

and if my pitcher was in control of the situation, in the sense that the hitters were not getting good swings at the ball - that was about all i could expect from any pitcher.

lolich did that very well, in most cases.


In 1968? Not really, no. His ERA was barely below average (abovce 3 vs. below 2 for McLain), he allowed many more base runners per IP than McLain, pitched far fewer innings, and, obviously won far fewer games.

If you think he was more "in control" than McLain in 1968, your memory is mistaken. You don't luck your way into 336 IP of 1.96 ERA.
   323. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 10:25 PM (#4534639)
mel stottlemyre and luis tiant are 2 more names that came to mind as pitchers in that "i guess they will win today" category.
   324. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: September 04, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4534674)
in 68 they were televising a ton of tiger games cuz they were in the lead. and almost every mclain game, cuz he was chasing the record.

What record?
   325. Jimmy Posted: September 04, 2013 at 11:55 PM (#4534762)
jim kaat, jim bunning, and dean chance are 3 more names that pop up.

frank lary was the tiger ace in my early years, but i recall him as being very good.

quite a good bunch of pitchers who would typically win.
   326. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 12:40 AM (#4534814)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBwWOGHiYZY
   327. AROM Posted: September 05, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4534954)
i dont recall what sorts of pitches they threw.

were they gonna get the batter out or not ?

that was what was important. that is what stays in my memory.


There are some things baseball stats don't capture, and where personal observations can add a lot. But if that's all you got, I'll take the stat called opponent on base percentage. Tells you exactly how good they were at getting a batter out or not.
   328. Jimmy Posted: September 05, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4534969)
hi arom,

i certainly understand your statement. if i was in your shoes, i would also tend to disregard an individual's recount of something.

mainly, because i would have el zippo with which to refer. i can not get inside that person's mind, and understand all the things that said person has seen, that were the basis of said person's conclusions.
   329. Jimmy Posted: October 09, 2013 at 12:48 AM (#4566583)
http://baseballhall.org/hof/koufax-sandy

After Sandy Koufax finally tamed his blazing fastball, he enjoyed a five-year stretch as perhaps the most dominating pitcher in the game's history. He won 25 games three times, captured five straight ERA titles and set a new standard with 382 strikeouts in 1965. His fastball and devastating curve enabled him to pitch no-hitters in four consecutive seasons, culminating with a perfect game in 1965. He posted a 0.95 ERA in four career World Series, leading the Dodgers to three championships.

this is the sandy koufax that i got to see - and no one was as good as him during that stretch. he was dang near unhittable.
   330. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: November 13, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4599416)
"... my jimmy frustration factor got pretty high."

Weren't you on Seinfeld? Jimmy, you are entertaining; I'll give you that.


   331. Jimmy Posted: November 18, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4601863)
LOL - living during any time allows a person to see things as they were, as opposed to how history books write about them.

there is a world of difference between what i was taught about various famous people, and how they really were.

it is one of life's lessons that i will not forget. and why i dont make comments about players that i havent seen.

there are quite a few good hitters from that time, any of whom might have been "the best".

however, there was no pitcher in the same league as sandy koufax during his prime. that is the dang easiest money you will ever take to the bank.

it hardly seemed fair to the hitters for a pitcher to have that good of a fastball and a curveball at the same time.

   332. Jimmy Posted: November 18, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4601866)
unlike bob gibson, don drysdale, and quite a few others - sandy koufax never threw at a batter.

his "stuff" was all he needed to get a batter out.
   333. OCF Posted: November 18, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4601889)
It is true that Koufax had an unusually low number of HPB, for his era or any era. When he missed, he didn't miss there.

Here are a few pitchers' HBP looked at in two different ways. The first is HBP per inning pitched:

Koufax: .0077
G. Perry: .0202
Gibson: .0263
Maddux: .0274
Drysdale: .0449
Pedro M: .0499

The second is HPB divided by unintentional BB; that is, crudely controlling for wildness:

Koufax: .023
Gibson: .084
G. Perry: .089
Maddux: .167
Pedro M: .193
Drysdale: .210
   334. OCF Posted: November 18, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4601901)
Even Tom Glavine, who famously threw away, away, away, had .0150 HPB per inning, or .049 per unintentional BB, which are twice Koufax's numbers. My sense is that Koufax is an extreme outlier in this measurement.
   335. OCF Posted: November 18, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4601984)
Some other historical figures:

HPB per inning:

W. Ford: .0088
Carlton: .0102
Grove: .0107
Roberts: .0115
Clemens: .0323
W. Johnson: .0347
R. Johnson: .0459

HPB per unintentional BB (IBB estimated for earlier pitchers, as that wasn't recorded)

W. Ford: .027
Carlton: .031
Grove: .037
Roberts: .058
Clemens: .105
R. Johnson: .130
W. Johnson: .158

What strikes me about that is that there seems to be a strong handedness bias. RHP hit more batters than LHP. Always have. (I suspect that if we check the platoon splits, you'd find that RHP hit RHB more than LHB and LHP hit LHB more than RHB.) The left-handed examples of Ford, Carlton, and Grove make Koufax look a little less like an outlier.

On the other hand - well, the same hand, but you know what I mean - the Big Unit was a dangerous man. (Cue video of John Kruk.)
   336. Jimmy Posted: November 19, 2013 at 03:32 AM (#4602137)
well, i did not see some of these other pitchers pitch. so i cant make any comment on them.

and one really had to be there to watch.

koufax was unhittable like no other pitcher of his day.

i am not going by stats. but by watching.

he made batters look bad.

when one watched koufax pitch, you would not get much of a hint that the batters had any real chance to do much. no other pitcher was like that, to that degree.

i saw him pitch a lot. only half as much as i could have. i always rooted against the dodgers.

so very often i would not watch when koufax was pitching, cuz it felt like an exercise in futility, hoping the other team was gonna hit him.

i am not sure which was better between his curveball and his fastball. the 2 together made batters look foolish.

there are just a tremendous amount of rule changes to try and compare players from different eras. i know that stats are a horrible way of doing so.

i am pretty sure that if we were to poll the players of that era, we would hear the same story that i am giving you guys, regarding koufax.

there were lots of good pitchers, but koufax had a very special ability that doesnt come around very often.

for those of you who did not get to see him, that is a shame - since i know all of you are avid baseball fans.
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