Time to add "El Tiante", Luis Tiant to my extended "Baseball's Greatest Moments" missing extension set, celebrating both he and perhaps the greatest Topps odd-ball set ever made:
I celebrated the man's incredible 1968 campaign, which would have earned him a Cy Young Award in any other season but the 1968 "Year of the Pitcher".
Of course, we know that with Denny McLain winning 31 games and leading the Detroit Tigers to a World Championship, he had that award wrapped up, as well as the MVP.
But for Tiant, it was a year to remember, as he gave the Cleveland Indians a 1-2 punch on the mound any team would envy, teaming up with flamethrower Sam McDowell.
All Tiant did that season for the Cleveland Indians was go 21-9 with nine shutouts over 32 starts, 19 of which he completed, and sport a sparkling 1.60 E.R.A. along with 264 strikeouts!
He also threw nine shutouts while tossing while allowing only 5.3 hits per nine innings, with a stellar 0.871 WHIP.
Forget Cy Young Award, those are MVP numbers!
By the time he finished his career in 1982, 18 years later, he finished with a 229-172 record, with a 3.30 E.R.A., 49 shutouts and 2416 strikeouts, with two seasons of sub-2.00 E.R.A., four 20-win campaigns as well as three 200+ strikeout years.
After getting 30.9% support in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1988, he never got close again to those numbers, topping out at 18.0% in his final year of eligibility in 2002.
Do I think he's a Hall of Fame pitcher? Tough call based on statistics alone. However I do feel that when you add in his personality, his long-lasting mark on the game in that time and place, he should be in.