1901 to 2015, SO>=340, sorted by greatest Strikeouts
In 1965 Koufax set the modern record for most strike outs (SO) in a season with 382. That season the Dodgers were locked in a battle for first place with the Giants, led by players who each won the National League MVP award:
Willie Mays: 1954, 1965
Willie McCovey: 1969
Orlando Cepeda: 1967 in his first season with St. Louis; had only 40 plate appearances in 1965.
Mays hit over 50 home runs (HR) in 1965 for the second time in his career.
Koufax started 41 games in 1965, completing 27, and saving two others in relief. 26-8 when no one was killing the win. Here are his final regular season games and the three he pitched in the World Series against the Minnesota Twins.
The first game was on one Day of Rest (DR) after Koufax had saved a game 2-0 with one inning of relief against the Cubs in Chicago. The matrix above includes cumulative SO and Innings for the season through the WS. It also has estimated pitch counts using the Tom Tango formula.
It was understood that Koufax would not pitch on Wednesday Oct. 6 because that would conflict with the religious beliefs of Koufax. That was the scheduled date for WS game one. Alston could plan his rotation accordingly.
Games 161 of the scheduled 162 were on Saturday Oct. 2. Entering that day the Dodgers had clinched at least a tie with the Giants who were two games back with two to play. Both teams were at home. The Giants wound up winning their final two games against the Reds to stay alive. The Dodgers had already used their only other two reliable starting pitchers Don Drysdale (23-12) and Claude Osteen (15-15): Drysdale beat the Braves 4-0 Thursday and Osteen lost to the Braves 2-0 Friday. The Dodgers had two more games against the Braves and needed one more win.
Since Alston knew that Koufax would not pitch Wednesday Oct. 6, why not hold him out until the final game on Sunday Oct. 3 and hope that the Giants lose on Saturday? If the Giants win, Koufax pitches in game 162. If Koufax wins the final regular season game, he could then pitch in WS game 2, which he did in real life on four days, on Thursday Oct. 7 on his usual three days rest.
In one sense Alston did Koufax a favor. Drysdale pitched in WS game one and lost, then Koufax lost WS game two. But Osteen, Drysdale and Koufax swept the Twins in LA to lead the WS 3-2. However, Osteen lost game six, setting the stage for the dramatic showdown game for which Koufax is remembered, some say immortalized. Koufax pitched a complete game shutout on two days rest. His accomplishment seemed enhanced by his ethical stand about scheduling.
Would you replace Koufax with Perranoski? Gibson with Schultz? Clemens with Schiraldi? Witt with Moore? Sunday, February 21, 2016