Dodgers Top Individual Seasons by a Starting Pitcher: #2 Sandy Koufax – 1963
Koufax’s last season was one for the ages, but it is hardly the greatest performance of his career. One could argue that he set the precedent for Clayton Kershaw and other Dodgers pitchers with his 1963 performance.
Most baseball players hit their prime during their mid to late 20s. Sandy Koufax was no exception to the rule. The Dodgers moved to Dodgers Stadium in 1962, leaving behind the short fences of LA Coliseum, and the now 25-year-old Koufax responded in kind, going 14-7 and dropping both his ERA (3.52 to 2.54) and home runs allowed (27 to 13) by large margins. That set the stage for one of the best seasons ever authored by a starting pitcher.
1963 would mark the first time in Koufax’s career that he would win 20+ games when he led the league with a 25-5 record, 306 strikeouts, 11 shutouts, a 1.88 ERA, and a 1.85 FIP. Koufax would then add the second no-hitter of his career. He led the league in strikeouts by 41, ERA by nearly a third of a run, FIP by half a run, and WPA (win probability added) by 1.2. His 11 shutouts in a single season still represent the MLB record today.
Koufax would go 2-0 in the World Series, won by the Dodgers over the hated Yankees in a sweep. He would win his first World Series MVP award on the back of two complete games and 23 strikeouts over 18 innings of work.
In 1963, Koufax would become the second Dodgers player to take home both the Cy Young Award and the MVP in the same season, joining teammate Don Newcombe in accomplishing the feat. Koufax won unanimously, capturing 100% of the vote. Likewise, he captured 85% of the vote for MVP, taking home 14 of the 20 first-place votes.