Thursday, June 13, 2013

"WHIP(ING) UP A CARD FOR AN UNDER-APPRECIATED SEASON- 1972 ROGER NELSON"

Quick, if someone were to ask you to name the top 3 "WHIP" pitching seasons since 1970, I'm sure at some point you can guess the names Pedro Martinez or Greg Maddux if you don't already know the answer.
Martinez set the MLB record with a .737 WHIP in 2000 (unreal considering it was smack in the middle of steroid-era baseball), while Maddux turned in an incredible .810 WHIP in 1995. Both were Cy Young award winners those years, and both were already considered the top pitchers in the game.
Now, if you were to take a guess at #3 on the WHIP list post-1970, how long would it take for you to name Roger Nelson of the 1972 Royals!? 
Yes, journeyman pitcher and one of the original Royals from their debut 1969 season, Roger Nelson.
He of the nine-year, 29-32 career, pulled off an amazing, yet unappreciated season in 1972 where he posted a 2.08 E.R.A.,  with 10 complete games out of 19 starts, for a team that went 76-78. 
Yet despite the valiant effort, he ended up sporting a paltry 11-6 record by season's end, though six of those 11 wins were by shutout. 
But what really set this season apart from so many others was his WHIP (Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched), which is so valued in todays game. In 1972 Nelson recorded an amazing .871 WHIP, easily finishing ahead of Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter, Gaylord Perry and Jim Palmer. Definitely one of those trivia questions that can win you some money in a bar one night!
Now, as if the poor guy's season isn't respected enough, turns out Topps didn't even have a card for him in the 1972 set even though he had cards from 1968-1971, and 1973-1975. But for his best season in the Majors, nothing. That is, until today. 
Here is my take on a 1972 Roger Nelson Topps card, in appreciation of one of those quirky seasons that makes Major League Baseball so awesome to follow, year in and year out.
3rd best WHIP season since 1970

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