Young: Did five starts in May 1960 ruin Sandy Koufax?

From SABR member Geoff Young at Baseball Prospectus on July 19, 2012:

Not long ago, Jason Collette and I were chatting on Twitter about high-strikeout games. As the conversation turned from Francisco Liriano, to Sterling Hitchcock, to Sandy Koufax, Jason noted a game in which Koufax threw 193 pitches. This got my attention, and I checked to see whether this total represented an anomaly or the status quo. Here are the 24-year-old Koufax’s first five starts of 1960 (he’d made three earlier relief appearances, throwing a combined 92 pitches).


Following his May 23 one-hitter against Pittsburgh, Koufax ranked third in the National League with 43 strikeouts. As he said after the game:

I don’t try for strikeouts. If I’m in trouble, I’ll try to strike somebody out. If I strike them out, they can’t hit the ball and can’t score.

But during a ball game, I’d rather have the batters ground out or fly out. It’s a lot easier getting them out, say, on a 1-2 pitch, than trying to strike them out. It’s more work striking them out.

He wanted to be efficient, he just couldn’t execute. We should all have such problems.

Said Koufax after the 193-pitch game, “I walked a few more than I would have liked to, but my control was a lot better than it has been.” He threw 117 strikes.

How did this workload affect Koufax in the short term?

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Originally published: July 20, 2012. Last Updated: July 20, 2012.