While Clayton Kershaw has been the Los Angeles Dodgers dominant left-handed pitcher over the last few years, winning three out of the last four Cy Young awards and a National League MVP, there was a Dodgers lefty before him who was just as impressive, but earned significantly less money.
In 2013, then-25-year-old Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215 million contract, which averages to more than $30 million annually, making him the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball.
In 1959, the Dodgers signed 23-year-old Sandy Koufax to a contract worth $15,000, as Bill Shaikin of the LA Times tweeted out a picture of that contract recently:
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) May 1, 2015
Koufax played 12 seasons in the Majors, all with the Dodgers. He won three Cy Youngs and an NL MVP. Despite being as dominant as he was, Koufax retired at the age of 30 due to an arthritic condition. He was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1972 at the age of 36, making him the youngest player ever to be inducted into the Hall.
In each of his three Cy Young seasons he threw at least 311 innings, won at least 25 games with an ERA below 2.10 while striking out at least 300. Over his 12-year career, the southpaw had a 165–87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games, and 40 shutouts.
In addition, Koufax threw four no-hitters (one perfect game) in his career. He also struck out 18 batters in one game on two separate occasions.