SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
November 13, 1972
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November 13, 1972


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Steve Carlton, who won 27 games for the last-place Philadelphia Phillies, was unanimously voted the Cy Young Award as best pitcher in the National League this season. A dedicated student of esoteric baseball statistics argues that Carlton may have enjoyed a better year in 1972 than any other pitcher ever has during a single season. G. J. Wyllie Jr. of San Francisco goes beyond the obvious ( Carlton's 27 wins matched the modern National League record for lefthanders set by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in 1966 when his team, the Dodgers, won the pennant) to point out that, despite the obviously woeful support he received from the Phils, Carlton led the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, earned-run average and complete games, as well as in games won. Few pitchers ever achieve such a sweep, and never before has one from a last-place team done it. In fact, Carlton is the only pitcher from a last-place team ever to lead his league in games won.

Carlton won 45.8% of his team's victories, the highest such percentage in modern baseball history. Since the Phils finished 11 games behind the fifth-place Montreal Expos with Carlton, it makes you wonder where in the world they would have been without him.

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