Card of the Day: 2001 Topps Combos Don Drysdale / Kevin Brown / Sandy Koufax
When I pulled this card to write about it, my initial reaction was that Kevin Brown had no place among Hall of Famers like Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. My focus was to be about why I think it is ridiculous to pair today’s stars with hall of famers, particularly ones as good as Drysdale and Koufax. But something clicked when I started looking at the players’ statistics: All three of these players were good, damn good.
I’m not saying that Kevin Brown is Hall of Fame worthy or that he was among the best pitchers in the history of the game, like the other two pictured on this 2001 Topps Combos card, but if you look at Brown’s career stats, you’ll see how good he was.
Now don’t get me wrong, I knew of Brown when he was active, and I did think he was one of the better pitchers of his time. But he never struck me as one of the best. But when I was looking at his career numbers, particularly his stretch from 1996 to 2001, you can see why Topps decided to out him on this card.
During those five years, two of them with the Dodgers, Brown posted ERAs 3.00 or better. And in 1996 he was runner up to CY Young award winner John Smoltz, who won 24 games that season and struck out 200-plus batters. During that season Brown notched a 1.89 ERA and won 17 games for the Marlins.
What’s interesting to note about this card is that it was produced in ’01 and the text on the back states that Brown has taken over as the Dodgers’ top hurler. Interesting considering Brown was not the team’s top pitcher in ’01, or the following year due in part to injury.
But that’s not to take away from Brown’s career accomplishments. He did win 211 games, struck out nearly 2,400 batters and had a career ERA of 3.28 in 19 Big League seasons. That’s pretty damn good if you ask me.
Side note, the back of this card also incorrectly states that Brown had pitched 200-plus innings in eight of the nine seasons prior to 2001. It was actually seven of the nine seasons. He only threw about 170 innings in 1994 and 1995.