An email this morning from Steve Keane let this writer know that Jerry Koosman will be Steve's guest tonight on his This Call to the Bullpen show on Blog Talk Radio. The email brought back really good memories of one of the really good left-handed pitchers in the past 30 years. Growing up in New Jersey, the Mets were definitely not one of the favorite teams, but Koosman transcended those feelings because he was such a classy pitcher and so much fun to watch. Seaver gets all the glory (and deservedly so) and Nolan Ryan is the more famous half of that famous Topps Rookie card. But Koosman was great and often a star and always overlooked.
How overlooked? Consider that he won twenty or more games twice and won nineteen another time and yet made only two All Star Games. Consider that he got jobbed in the 1968 season for Rookie of the Year despite a 19-12 record with a 2.08 ERA. The guy who won the award that year was some guy named Johnny Bench. But Koosman had a much higher WAR and should have won. He also lost a close Cy Young Award race to Randy Jones (of the Padres) in 1976 when Koosman finished with a 21-10 record with a 2.69 ERA. His peripherals were all better than Jones, but Jones won one more game and pitched a lot more innings (Jones made an incredible 40 starts that season).
Consider also that Koosman went 4-0 in post season games, including 3-0 in the World Series. He won two games in the amazing and stunning Mets' upset of the powerful Baltimore Orioles in 1969.
Jerry Koosman won 222 games in his career with a 3.36 ERA. He accumulated 58.8 Wins Above Replacement for his career. He pitched until age 42 and even made 34 starts at the age of 41 and still put up a 3.25 ERA for the Phillies that season. Koosman compiled 33 shutouts in 140 career complete games and even contributed 17 saves. Jerry Koosman was very, very good.
Oh, and that rookie card? Those two pitchers combined for 46 seasons, 546 wins and 7650 strikeouts. That's probably got to be the most productive rookie card ever. The card is shown below and is linked to its source. Listen to the radio show tonight as Koosman is a guy that deserves more credit for his career than he's received.