Johan Santana was a Cy Young Award winner with the Minnesota Twins before coming to the New York Mets
Santana won the pitching Triple Crown in 2006…leading the Majors in strikeouts (245), ERA (2.77), and wins (19).
He came to the Mets prior to the 2008 season and it was discovered that he had thrown most of the season with a torn meniscus in his knee, requiring surgery, yet he still led the National League in starts (34), innings (234), and won the ERA title (2.53) while winning 16 games.
Santana missed starts in 2009 and 2010, and for the first time since becoming a full-time starter in 2003, failed to reach 200 innings. Yet, he was always effective. He went 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 2009 and 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA in 2010.
His 2010 season would end early as he would need to undergo surgery to repair the torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Santana would be forced to sit out the entire 2011 season and, unfortunately, would never be the same.
Santana came back for the 2012 season and was struggling. But in his 11th start back from the surgery, on June 1, 2012, Santana gave Mets fans something that they had never seen before in team history – a no-hitter. Not Tom Seaver…not Jerry Koosman nor Nolan Ryan nor Jon Matlack. Not Dwight Gooden…not Ron Darling nor David Cone nor Sid Fernandez. A lot of tremendous pitchers. A lot of hard throwers. And it was the guy with the tremendous changeup who did it.
But after a couple of more starts, ineffective starts, Santana would again be on the sidelines, and for good.
A career record of 139-78 and an ERA of 3.20…and out of baseball by the age of 33…thanks to a bad knee and a bad arm.
Santana was a dominant pitcher. He wasn’t flashy. But he was efficient and did what was needed to win. There are pitchers like Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven who may have lasted longer, but who were clearly not as effective as Santana. Did Morris and Blyleven have longer careers? Yes. But Sandy Koufax didn’t last nearly as long. And, quite frankly, none of those three matched the magic automatic number of 300 wins. In fact. Koufax was “only” 165-87 in his short career.
Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame voters forgot about the Koufax rule and in 2018, Santana’s first year of eligibility became his last year of eligibility as he received a mere 2.4% of the votes and was removed from the list.