The greatest LHP of our generation hung up his spikes last night when he announced his retirement. Many of us never got to see Sandy Koufax, some of us got to see Steve Carlton but all of us got to see Randy Johnson dominate the landscape over the last 20 years. We were all lucky to see Randy at his best unless you are only 10 years old and we could go on for days enumerating his accomplishments. Here is just a snapshop via MLB.com's Chris Haft:
The progression of Johnson's achievements described a near-continuous ascent. He gathered numerous accolades, including five Cy Young Awards and 10 All-Star selections. His statistical dossier bulges with notable accomplishments: 4,875 strikeouts, topped only by Nolan Ryan's 5,714 on the all-time list; a 303-166 career record, which made him the 24th pitcher in Major League history to exceed the 300 plateau; and two no-hitters, the second of which was a perfect game at Atlanta's Turner Field on May 18, 2004.
I have no doubt that Randy is one of the greatest LHP in the history of baseball but comparing between era's is a slippery slope. If you read any of the thread below you see that Eric and I were having a bit of fun with Koufax and Johnson and what they might have accomplished in each others era.
When it comes to postseason play I'm particularly impressed with what Sandy Koufax did in 1965 in what I consider the greatest three days of postseason pitching not in the dead ball era. (how many pitchers started 3 games in the world series when the first start was the 2nd game?) Still what Randy Johnson did in 2001 to ensure a Diamondback World Championship will be remembered by all of us who saw it. Here are more highlights that Eric researched yesterday:
For instance, Koufax’s entire case rests on his peak, and oh what a peak it was (1962-1966). Let’s look at how he compares with Grove and Johnson.
Best 5-Year stretch
Unit – 175 ERA+ (1998-2002)
Grove – 173 ERA+ (1935-1939)
Grove – 172 ERA+ (1928-1932)
Koufax – 167 ERA+ (1962-1966)
Unit – 162 ERA+ (1993-1997, although he missed significant time in 1996)
Basically, Grove and Johnson each had Koufax’s peak, plus another 5-year run just as good or nearly as good, something Koufax of course never got.
Unit also ended the 2001 playoffs with 5 straight wins (one in relief), allowing 4 runs in his final 38.1 IP, with 7 BB and 43 K
Those are just some of the stats but how about the legend. The Big Unit was aptly named, a gangling 6'10 with long arms and legs he simply whipped the ball to the plate. Left handed hitters had little chance and one time during an all-star appearance John Kruk had some fun with it. Check out this Video of that all-star at bat.
He not only was a great pitcher but a great baseball character. Not much seems to be floating around on the web right now that really gives a look into the man. If you find any good stories please link them in this thread and I'll add them up here.