Discussion in 'Archive: Census and Games' started by General Kenobi, Feb 9, 2003.
This gets into the debate about prime vs. career.
Spahn has the longest, best career.
Grove probably has the best mix overall.
Ford was the best pitcher on a lot of great Yankee teams, and has a great winning percentage.
I went with Koufax, because in his prime, I don't think there was any better.
If we're talking about "prime" then I'll give Johnson the slight edge over Koufax. Both completely dominated the league, but Johnson pitches in a much better era for hitters.
Steve Carlton was a great pitcher, even on awful teams. In 1972 he got 27 of his teams 59 wins.
Oh how could I forget Sandy Koufax
Once upon a time (which wasn't long ago at all), I would have said Koufax without hesitation.
Now, I have to go with Randy. As a hometown Diamondbacks fan, I've watched him on a regular basis since he arrived here in 1999. I remember his first season here, when he pitched four excellent games and lost all four, including a no-hitter and one-hitter against him.
In 2000, he started out running, and he kept going until a game against the Expos. The second half wasn't quite as good, but it was enough for Cy Young number 3.
My favorite has to be in 2001, when he struck out 20 against the Reds. He was absolutely dominant and yet came away with a no-decision. As an aside, it's my opinion that that game helped make the season for Arizona, as they came back and beat the Reds (in a comeback that had echoes of Game 7 in the Series). Later that season of course, he would go on to win five postseason games, including three in the Series, culminating in a relief appearance in Game 7 for the ultimate win. Cy Young number 4 came in the offseason.
Last year was truly an up and down here for him. He started off strong, and then struggled in midseason, when it looked like Curt Schilling was a lock for the Cy Young. He was pounded in one game at San Diego, and people here were wondering if the decline had begun. From the next game on, he was dominant once again. In one memorable game, he was absolutely on fire, once hitting 102 on the Bank One Ballpark radar gun. By the end of the season, it was Randy Johnson that was the favorite for the Cy Young award, not Curt Schilling. Unfortunately, he had an off-game in the opening meeting between the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, which brought back memories of his bad playoff game against the Mets in 1999. Nevertheless, Cy Young number 5 arrived after the season.
And so here we are again, almost ready to begin another season. It's staggering to remember that he started this run with the Diamondbacks when he was 35, and is now set to turn 40 in September. Most people's careers are either over by 35 or are in decline. He went from being a very good pitcher to a legendary one, and a certain Hall of Famer.
In an era of offense, Randy Johnson's numbers match up against anyone's, both past and present. While Koufax pitched in the era of the pitcher, Johnson pitches in the age of the hitter.
He's the best there ever was.
While by no means am I suggesting Randy Johnson is undeserving here, I just wanted to make a few points:
- The 2002 Diamondbacks scored 35% more runs per game than the 1965 Dodgers. (The 2002 NL scored about 10% more runs per game than the 1965 NL.) Now I don't have the breakdowns for each pitcher's run support, but generally speaking, the Dodgers were a much weaker offensive team for their era than today's Diamondbacks.
- The 2002 NL featured about 12% more strikeouts per game than the 1965 NL. Better hitters, yes. More free swingers, also.
- Johnson has not come through in several "clutch" games in his career (he made up a lot in 2001 though). Koufax won a lot of clutch games for LA.
- Koufax pitched his final seasons through brutal elbow pain.
Anyhow, The Big Unit is one of the all-time great lefties. He's legit. I just still lean towards Sandy.
It's always hard for me to compare active players to the all-time greats. (That's one reason why some of my other polls include only Hall-of-Famers.)
Ok, I wasn't around to see Koufax pitch but as I understand it, as good as Johnson is Koufax was that much better (in his prime anyway).
It remains to be seen if the Big Unit can match Spahn's productivity in his "older years". Spahn was a true "pitcher"; 363 wins seems unreachable in this era.
It's just so sad that Koufax didn't get the chance to have that end of his career.
Rest in peace, Spahnie.
Tommy Glavine, come on where's he on the list?
As much as I love Tom Glavine (pre-Mets), he's not quite on the elite list.
Well, not top 5 for sure.
Seen Johnson pitch many a game in Seattle.
I was overjoyed to see him as the MVP when Arizona won the World Series.
Tough one... Going with Koufax though, in his prime, he was as good as it gets.
I was overjoyed to see Johnson & the D'Backs beat the Yankees.
What a great series.