On the blog today, we move on to the American League’s top three pitchers in terms of victories for the 1976 season, shown on an “expanded” 1977 league-leader card:
We begin with Baltimore orioles great Jim Palmer, who paced the A.L. for the second straight year in wins, this time with 22 after leading in 1975 with 23, both seasons leading him to take home the Cy Young Award.
Palmer paired those 22 wins with a 2.51 ERA over 40 starts, with 23 complete games and six shutouts, along with 159 strikeouts over a league-leading 315 innings of work.
This would give him three Cy Young Awards in four seasons, first taking home the award back in 1973 when he also finished second in the MVP race, going 22-9 with a leading 2.40 ERA over 38 games.
Right behind Palmer with 21 wins, “El Tiante” Luis Tiant, who was churning out winning season after winning season for the Boston Red Sox after being pulled from the trash heap back in 1972.
Tiant posted his fourth and final 20-win season, going 21-12 over 38 games, with a 3.06 ERA and three shutouts, his third 20-win season in four years, with just an 18-win season breaking the streak in 1975.
Incredible to think back in 1970, still only 29 years of age, it looked like his career was over after losing 20 games with the Indians in 1969, appearing in only 18 games for the Minnesota twins in 1970, then going 1-7 for Boston in 1971.
1972 saw Tiant return to his great form, leading the A.L. with a 1.91 ERA while going 15-6 over 43 appearances, tossing six shutouts while also saving three, eventually putting in 19 years and winning 229 games.
In third place with 20 wins, another Oriole starter, Wayne Garland, who had his breakthrough season in 1976, and sadly also his breakdown season, going 20-7 over 38 games, with four shutouts and a brilliant 2.67 ERA.
Those numbers got him a big contract with the Cleveland Indians the following year, only to see him falter and lose 19 against 13 wins, with an ERA a full run higher.
Arm troubles derailed his career, never even approaching double-digit wins the rest of the way, retiring in 1981, still only 30 years of age, with 55 wins, almost half the total won in 1976.
There you have the big-three winners of the A.L. for 1976, on an “expanded” league-leader card.
Next week we move on to strikeouts.