Chris Carpenter: The Second Coming of Sandy Koufax?

Sam FogelgarenCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2009

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 11:  Pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws during the MLB game against the Houston Astros on September 11, 2006 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros 7-0.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

As of this morning, the St. Louis Cardinals are 84-58, 10.5 games in front of the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central. 

How have they achieved this success?

One may attribute it to the MVP caliber season of Albert Pujols, the trade deadline acquisition of Matt Holliday, or the amazing pitching of Adam Wainwright.

Or Chris Carpenter.

The 34-year-old is 16-3, with a league leading 2.16 ERA in 24 starts this season.

One may remember Chris Carpenter for his 2005 Cy Young season, when he went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA. You may also remember him for his 2004 and 2006 campaigns, when he went a combined 30-13 over 60 starts. 

You probably don't remember him with the Toronto Blue Jays.

A first round pick of the Jays in 1993, Carpenter was just 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA over six seasons with the team. 

The Cardinals signed Carpenter prior to the 2003 season, but he would go on to miss the entire season with a torn labrum. 

In 2004, Carpenter's first season with the team, he went an impressive 15-5, with a 3.46 ERA, a career low at the time. 

2005 was the season for Carpenter.

At 21-5 and a 2.83 ERA, Carpenter took home the Cy Young Award and led the Cardinals to a 100-win season.

2006 saw yet another productive season for Carpenter, as he went 15-8 with a 3.46 ERA and the Cardinals won the World Series. 

In 2007 and 2008, Carpenter caught the injury bug and missed nearly the entire seasons. 

In five games over the two seasons, Carpenter was 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA.

2009 saw Carpenter come back to his old form, and then some.

As of right now, Carpenter is leading MLB in ERA, at just 2.16. His .842 winning percentage this season is also the best in the majors. 

Carpenter is one of the best pitchers in baseball, there is no doubt. But whenever looking at Carpenter's statistics, I can't help thinking of Sandy Koufax.

The first seven seasons of Koufax's career were nothing short of mediocre. Koufax was 54-53 with a 3.94 ERA.

1962 was the season when Sandy Koufax became the Sandy Koufax we all know today.

Between 1962 and 1966, Koufax went an unmatchable 111-34, and put up a 1.95 ERA.

Though Carpenter's post-Toronto numbers don't quite match up to those of Koufax's between 1962 and 1966, Chris has done some amazing things in the last six years. 

Over 121 starts, Carpenter has gone 67-23 with an ERA of 2.92. 

Carpenter's .744 winning percentage as a Cardinal is the best in team history, better than Mort Cooper, better than Bob Gibson, and better than all of the other great Cardinal pitchers. 

Carpenter has not had the same success as Koufax, and he probably won't. He's 34 now, and Koufax was 30 when he retired. 

But Carpenter has been one of the most dominating pitchers since coming from Toronto, and his career has taken a very similar path to Sandy Koufax's. 


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