In fact, left-hander Johan Santana's unanimous selection as the American League Cy Young Award winner was just the latest piece of mounting evidence in the argument he's making for consideration as one of the best left-handers in history over any given four-year period.
The Cy Young Award was the second in three years -- both by unanimous vote -- for Santana, 27. Many considered him the best pitcher in the league in 2005 as well, but poor run support and some letdowns by the bullpen cost him enough victories to allow 20-game winner Bartolo Colon to take the Cy Young that year.
Those are Santana's first three full seasons as a starter in the big leagues.
In fact, since he joined the rotation at midseason in 2003 and made 18 starts that year, he's 66-21 (.759) with the best ERA in baseball (2.77) as a starter.
He also has 857 strikeouts in 803 2/3 innings in that 119-start stretch. That 3 1/2-year period is comparable to the four-year stretch in the 1960s by Sandy Koufax that many consider the most dominating for that length in history.
In a pitcher-dominated era, Koufax went 97-27 (.782) with a 1.86 ERA and 1,228 Ks in 1,192 2/3 innings -- winning three Cy Youngs along the way.
Among left-handers other than Koufax, only Randy Johnson's four-year run of NL Cy Youngs from 1999-2002 (81-27, 2.48, 1,417 Ks) compares. One big difference between Santana and those other two: He's doing it at a younger age than either one of them.
And, he said, "I still believe I can get better. I'm pretty sure that I can do better." This season, Santana led the majors with a 2.77 ERA and 245 strikeouts and tied for the major league lead in victories (19). Only Koufax, with three, has won more Cy Youngs by unanimous vote.
BY THE NUMBERS: $37,539 -- Value of a full playoff share for the Twins in 2006, for winning their division and losing in the first round of the playoffs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "People are starting to recognize him. Gardy's starting to get into that neighborhood of select company with Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa and Joe Torre." -- Twins GM Terry Ryan on manager Ron Gardenhire after he finished second in AL Manager of the Year voting.