Wednesday, January 15, 2014

1975 "CY YOUNG AWARD" SUB-SET: WHAT IF? 1953

Next up on my "what if" Cy Young Award 1975 sub-set thread are the 1953 picks by the fine people at SABR: Warren Spahn in the National League and Bob Porterfield in the American league.
First off here's my design for the '53 entry in my imagined set. I was lucky there wasn't too much work to do here since both players were included in Topps set that year. Take a look:


So let's start off with what was the "gimmie" choice that year, Warren Spahn.
All the legendary lefthander did that year for the Braves was post a 23-7 record to go along with a 2.10 earned run average, both league leading numbers.
On top of that Spahn had 24 complete games and five shutouts for a team that finished 92-62, good for second place in their first year in Milwaukee after relocating from Boston over the off-season.
He was the top vote-getter for pitchers that year in the N.L., good for a fifth place finish.
Funny enough, just behind him in sixth place for M.V.P. voting was Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts, the 1952 "assumed" Cy winner.
It was Spahn's fifth 20-win season of his career, on his way to an astounding 13!!
And don't forget, Spahn didn't pitch his first full season of big-league ball until he was 25 years old because of military service between 1943-1945.
One can only imagine how many more wins he would have added to his career number of 363 if he had the chance to pitch 3+ more full-years in the Majors.
Just incredible.
The 1953 Topps Spahn card is one of my favorites, and I clearly remember the day I scored mine years ago at a local card show.
I must have bought about two-dozen cards that day, but that '53 Spahn was my highlight!
Anyway, onto what turns out to be another relatively easy pick for a Cy Young in 1953, the guy SABR picked for the American League: Washington Senators pitcher Bob Porterfield.
Entering his sixth season in the big leagues, Porterfield had a great year for a .500 team that finished fifth in the A.L., going 76-76, posting league-leading numbers of 22 wins, 24 complete games and nine shutouts to go along with a 3.35 E.R.A. and a .688 winning percentage.
Some could have made the argument for Mel Parnell of the Boston Red Sox being the "winner" in the A.L. that year, after posting a 21-8 record to go along with a 3.06 earned run average for a team that went 84-69, good for fourth place.
Some may even want to argue that Billy Pierce of the Chicago White Sox (my personal pick) should be the "virtual" winner.
All Pierce did that season was guide the White Sox to a 3rd place finish in the American league with a record of 18-12 to go along with a second-best E.R.A. of 2.72 (behind Eddie Lopat of the Yankees).
Pierce would also lead the league in 1953 with 186 strikeouts and post 19 complete games and seven shutouts.
But looking back, it seems that Porterfield's 22 wins and nine shutouts pulled him away from the pack.
Porterfield was kind of a "one-year wonder", as he was never able to have a season like 1953 before or after in his career.
His next highest win total over the course of his 12 year career would be 13, which he garnered in 1952 and 1954.
As a matter of fact, his 22 wins in 1953 would pretty much represent 25% of his career total of 87 wins lifetime. And his nine shutouts that year were a big chunk of the 23 lifetime shutouts he'd post in the big leagues as well.
Next up on this "Cy Young" fantasy-fest: 1954, featuring a Hall of Famer in Cleveland Indian Bob Lemon and a custom designed card by yours truly), and New York Giant breakout star Johnny Antonelli.
Keep an eye out for it...

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