Wow, I was evidently branded as a heretic by some of the old-timers on this board who questioned my sanity for saying that Clayton Kershaw would become the greatest Dodgers pitcher of all time and questioning whether Ryu was a #3.
Let’s address the Kershaw-Koufax comparison. Let me start by asking you if you all think Barry Bonds or Mark MaGwire should have an asterisk by their names for what was obvious steroid-enhanced power? Of course, there has to be some consideration taken for that. Read what Wikipedia says about the pitchers mound in baseball:
In Major League Baseball, a regulation mound is 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter, with the center 59 feet (18.0 m) from the rear point of home plate, on the line between home plate and second base. The front edge of the pitcher’s plate or rubber is 18 inches (45.7 cm) behind the center of the mound, making the front edge’s midpoint 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. Six inches (15.2 cm) in front of the pitcher’s rubber the mound begins to slope downward. The top of the rubber is to be no higher than ten inches (25.4 cm) above home plate. From 1903 through 1968, this height limit was set at 15 inches, but was often slightly higher, sometimes as high as 20 inches (50.8 cm), especially for teams that emphasized pitching, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were reputed to have the highest mound in the majors.
A pitcher will push off the rubber with his foot in order to gain velocity toward home plate when pitching. In addition, a higher mound generally favors the pitcher. With the height advantage, the pitcher gains more leverage and can put more downward velocity on the ball, making it more difficult for the batter to strike the ball squarely with the bat. The lowering of the mound in 1969 was intended to “increase the batting” once again, as pitching had become increasingly dominant, reaching its peak the prior year; 1968 is known among baseball historians as “The Year of the Pitcher”. This restrictive rule apparently did its job, contributing to the hitting surge of modern baseball.
So, in some respects, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were kind of “on steroids” when compared to today’s pitchers, especially when they pitched on the Dodger Stadium mound. For the record, I saw Sandy Koufax pitch many times, both on TV and in person. I was born in 1953. I knew he was something special. From 1963 to 1966 he put up numbers that will likely never be duplicated, but it was enhanced by the 15 inch mound and especially the 18-20 inch mound at Dodger Stadium where he pitched half his games. There was no bigger disparity than in 1965 when he allowed hitters to hit .205 on the road (pretty good), but only allowed them to hit .152 at Dodger Stadium. He gave up 58 runs on the road, but only 30 in Dodger Stadium.
Sandy Koufax was great, and he didn’t cheat – but the Dodgers did, and he also benefited from a mound that was 33% taller in most parks and 50% taller in Dodgers Stadium. We all know that Bonds and McGwire wouldn’t have hit all these HR without juice. Sandy’s juice was the mound. We will never fully know the effect the mound had, but I guarantee that if Clayton could pitch off a 20 inch mound, he would do remarkably better. That was the “dead ball” era as well. For God’s sakes, in 1965, Zolio Versalles won the AL MVP when he hit .273 with a .319 OB%, 19 HR and 77 RBI!
I still believe that (barring injury) Clayton Kershaw will end up with nearly 300 wins and with only 165 wins, Sandy will relinquish his spot as the top Dodger pitcher. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.
On Ryu: I said this:
It also leaves the Dodgers without a true #3. Sure Ryu has filled that spot and I will admit that maybe he can be a #3, but I think the Dodgers are currently without a #3 and with their woeful offense, they could really use a #3 starter.
Ryu has all of 8 games experience in the MLB! 8 games! I said that he COULD be a #3, but to proclaim him that now is delusional. Kershaw and Greinke are pitcher you don’t want to face, but lets see how Ryu does his second or third time around the league – that will tell the tale. If he keeps up his current pace, then yes, he’s a number three. We all know the odds are against it, however we can hope for it!
- Look for Ted Lilly to take Matt Magills’ place this weekend.
- Yesterday, Ross Stripling pitched 6 innings, allowed 8 hits, walked none and struck out 7. His ERA at AA is now 2.25!
- Alex Castellanos is back off the DL.
- Cruz and Hernandez both have to go!