Wednesday, May 21, 2014

1975 "CY YOUNG AWARD" SUB-SET: WHAT IF? 1968

Well, here's a card that didn't need much work since both M.V.P. Winners in 1968 were pitchers, so the card images remain the same with only the banner text needed a change.
1968, the "Year of the Pitcher".
And what more evidence does anyone need than the fact that both Most Valuable Players that year were indeed moundsmen: Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals and Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers.
First, let's refresh our memories and look at the 1975 sub-set design for the Cy Young winners:


As I stated, all that was changed here was the banner title.
The two pitchers collected some serious hardware that year, as they posted memorable pitching performances that still resonate to this day!
In the American League, Denny McLain was already a solid starter for the Tigers as the 1968 season opened, but MAN did he explode that year, posting sick numbers like a 31-6 record with a 1.96 E.R.A. and 280 strikeouts!
He also threw 28 complete games with six shutouts in 41 starts, good for 336 innings pitched.
Staggering by today's standards.
Yes, he's the last Major League pitcher to post 30+ wins, but he's actually also the ONLY pitcher in the past 79 years to reach that number! 
You have to go all the way back to 1930 and Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean before you find another 30 game winner.
McLain would also win another Cy Young the following year (shared with Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar), but would quickly deteriorate, having his career come to an end just four years after his monumental 1968 display.
It's hard to imagine because they guy always looked so much older than he really was on his cards, but McLain was only 24 years old in 1968! Look at him, he looks ten years older at least!
He never even made it to 30 years of age during his playing days, as he left the game after the 1972 season when he split time with the Atlanta Braves and Oakland A's.
In the National League, we all know the story there as well: Bob Gibson was absolutely LIGHTS OUT, rolling to a 22-9 record with a microscopic 1.12 earned run average and 268 strikeouts to go along with his 28 complete games and THIRTEEN shutouts!
You know, even though I have gone over every single box score from his '68 season, I STILL can't believe how this guy lost nine games that year! It's baffling to me even today.
Gibson was smack in the middle of his pitching hey-day, posting the third of his five 20+ win seasons, winning the first of his two Cy Young Awards, and leading the Cardinals to the World Series for the third time, though losing to the Tigers in the Fall Classic.
Let's also not forget that Gibson also took home the fourth of his nine Gold Glove Awards that season as well.
About as fierce a competitor the game has ever seen! 
On a side note-that 1968 season was so ridiculous as far as pitching went, it's the equivalent to what the 1930 National League season was to batting.
Check out these facts from that season:
No less than seven pitchers posted sub-2.00 earned run averages; the American League leader in batting was Carl Yastrzemski with a crisp .301 average, McLain's 1.96 E.R.A was only good for fourth place in his league, with Luis Tiant, Sam McDowell and Dave McNally all posted lower numbers, and my favorite number of all: there were 49 Major League pitchers that season who posted an E.R.A. under 3.00! Forty-Nine!
There were only 20 teams in the Majors then, so we're talking 2.5 pitchers a team had an E.R.A. under 3.00.
There were also nine guys who posted a WHIP under 1.00!
Just amazing.
It's no surprise Major League Baseball swung the pendulum the other way right quick, trying to boost offense as they were losing ground to American audiences to the N.F.L., lowering the pitching mound and eventually creating the much disputed Designated Hitter in the American League five years later.
Anyway, next up on this thread is the 1969 season, and it'll be a bit of a change, showing three pitchers instead of two, as I stated earlier Denny McLain would share the Cy Young with Mike Cuellar for the American League honors, while Tom Seaver would win the National League award as he led the "Miracle Mets" to an unlikely World Championship.

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