Tuesday, May 6, 2014

1975 "CY YOUNG AWARD" SUB-SET: WHAT IF? 1966

Today we'll look at the final year of the "Koufax-era" in my imagined 1975 Cy Young Award sub-set, 1966.
After a run of domination hardly seen in Major League baseball before or since, Koufax would retire from the game at season's end and shock many fans because of serious arm-trouble.
Along with Koufax and his third Cy Young in four years, the fine folks at SABR picked Jim Kaat of the Minnesota Twins as the American League Cy Young winner had they chosen one in each league at that time.
First up, my card design:


This would be the final year of voting on one winner for the award before they began voting on winners for both leagues beginning in 1967.
Koufax was once again out of this world spectacular, posting a record of 27-9 with a 1.73 earned run average and 317 strikeouts, all league leading figures.
He also lead the league in games started (41), complete games (27), innings pitched (323) and shutouts (5), easily taking home the award and unexpectedly capping a Hall of Fame career before injuries halted his career at age 30.
Sadly the season was also marred by the Dodgers' surprising loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, getting swept mainly because of the "Birds" up-and-coming young pitching studs Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally, along with a surprise performance by reliever Moe Drabowsky in the first game.
Six years later Koufax was inducted into the Hall of Fame, getting named to 344 of 396 ballots when voting was announced.
Perhaps only Pedro Martinez' run in the late 90's/early 00's was there be another pitcher who had a run that far out-shined the rest of his league for a few years like Koufax's run between 1963-1966.
Over in the American League, the Twins were once again the beneficiaries of a fine performance by one of their young pitchers, this time Jim Kaat.
After a nice five year run between 1962-1965, Kaat came into his own in '66, finishing the season with a league-leading 25 wins (against 13 losses), a 2.75 E.R.A., and 205 strikeouts, while also leading the league in starts (41), innings pitched (304.2) and complete games (19).
He also picked up his fifth of what was to become 16 Gold Gloves in his 25 year career while finishing in fifth place in M.V.P. Voting.
Kaat would have two more 20-win seasons, in the 1970's while pitching for the Chicago White Sox, before switching over to relieving the final few years of his lengthy career in the early-80's with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Next we take a look at the first season where TWO Cy Young winners were selected, one for each league, 1967.
For the National League we have Giants pitcher Mike McCormick, while in the American League we have Red Sox hurler Jim Lonborg.
Two guys who easily had career years that season.

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