Thursday, August 25, 2011

Best Team, Best Pitcher?

I read in the paper the other day that if Justin Verlander wins the Cy Young Award the Tigers will likely win the World Series. The writer argued that it had happened every time the Tigers won the World Series, namely 1935, '45, '68, and '84.

Well, that is a cute idea and it's close to the truth. In 1968 Denny McLain (31-4) won the Cy Young. And in 1984 Willie Hernandez (9-3 with 32 saves) did. That must give some hope to Tiger fans.
But there was no Cy Young Award in '35 or '45. The award was not created until the year after Cy Young's death in 1955.

In '35 Boston's Wes Ferrell led the league in wins and Lefty Grove had the best ERA. But the Tigers' big three led in shutouts (Schoolboy Rowe), strikeouts (Tommy Bridges), and winning percentage (Elden Auker). Ferrell was 25-14, 3.52 and Grove was 20-12 with a 2.70 ERA. For the World Series champs Rowe was 19-13, 3.69, Bridges was 21-10, 3.51, and Auker was 18-7, 3.83. I think Bridges might have won the Cy Young if they'd had it - but it might have gone to Ferrell.

In '45 Hal Newhouser, who had been exempted from military service, got to feast on the hitters who weren't fighting in Japan and racked up a league-leading 25 wins and posted a 1.81 ERA. 'Prince Hal' led the AL in every pitching category except saves, so I guess he would have won the award if it had existed.

It all got me to thinking how often the game's top team (arguably the World Series champs) won it all because they had the league's best pitcher. So here is how often it has happened since they started handing out the Cy Young. Keep in mind that there was only one award given out from '56 to '66, since then there has been a recipient in each league.

1957 - Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves
1958 - Bob Turley of the New York Yankees
1960 - Vernon Law of the Pittsburgh Pirates
1961 - Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees
1963 - Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers
1965 - Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers
1968 - Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers
1969 - Tom Seaver of the New York Mets
1974 - Catfish Hunter of the Oakland A's
1977 - Sparky Lyle of the New York Yankees
1978 - Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees
1980 - Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies
1981 - Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers
1984 - Willie Hernandez of the Detroit Tigers
1985 - Bret Saberhagen of the Kansas City Royals
1988 - Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers
1995 - Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves
2001 - Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks

So, it used to happen regularly – 16 times in the first 32 years – or once every two years. But only twice in the past 23. Why? It's quite simple. Let's all say it together, "There are too many bloody teams now !!!"
Will it happen for the Tigers this year? Probably not. How come? Cuz' their number two guy so far this year, Max Scherzer, is no Schoolboy Rowe (1935), Dizzy Trout ('45), Mickey Lolich ('68), or Jack Morris ('84). Sorry Motown.

1 comment:

marcj said...

I was looking for exactly the same information that you have provided here. According to you who are the best pitchers in baseball? I like Clayton Kershaw most and he is awesome.