Friday, December 3, 2021


On the blog today, we have a 1974 "expanded league leaders" card celebrating the three top winners in the National League for 1973:

Leading off is one of those great anomalies in the annals of "league leaders", San Francisco Giants pitcher Ron Bryant, who won 24 of his career 57 games in 1973 alone.
Bryant was coming off of a 1972 season that saw him post a record of 14-7, not bad, before he steamrolled to 24 wins in 1973.
However it wasn't necessarily a dominating year for the lefty, as he'd also post an earned run average of 3.53 over 270 innings, with 143 strikeouts and zero shutouts.
The following season he would plummet to a record of 3-15 with a 5.61 ERA over the same 41 appearances, tossing only 126.2 innings before having one last year in the Big Leagues in 1975, going 0-1 in only 10 appearances with a bloated 16.62 ERA over 8.2 innings.
The definition of "career year" if there ever was one!
Right behind him with 19 wins was the National League's Cy Young winner, the great Tom Seaver, who put in a "typical" Seaver year with a league-leading 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts, as well as 18 complete games with three shutouts over 36 games and 290 innings of work, helping the New York Mets make the World Series before an eventual loss to the three-peat Oakland A's.
Before he was done Seaver would win one more Cy, two years later, and get ripped of another in 1981 (in my humble opinion), on his way to "All-Time Great" status.
Tied with Seaver with those 19 wins was the Cincinnati Reds pitcher who really gets lost in the shuffle of the mid-70's, Jack Billingham, who had the first of his two straight 19-win seasons for the burgeoning "Big Red Machine" Reds teams.
For a juggernaut of a team those Reds were, they did not have that star "ace" that we can find with other dynasties.
Those Reds teams had guys like Don Gullett, Fred Norman, and Billingham, who were solid pitchers but were also helped a great deal by lineups that included dudes like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and George Foster.
For Billingham, in addition to the 19 wins he posted an ERA of 3.04 with a league-leading seven shutouts and 293.1 innings pitched, striking out 155 batters, finishing fourth at year's end in the Cy Young race, making his only All-Star team as well.
A bit of an odd year as far as "league leaders" in wins go for that period, but great nevertheless!


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