November 2nd, 1972: Leading the league in victories (27), ERA (1.97), starts (41), complete games (30), and strike outs (310), Steve Carlton wins the NL’s CY Young Award. ‘Lefty’s’ 27 victories nearly accounts for nearly half (45.8%) of the last-place Phillies wins.
Although it pains me to praise the work of a ballplayer that played for Philadelphia, what Steve Carlton did for the Phillies in 1972 was unbelievable. It’s remarkable when a pitcher can win their version of the Triple Crown (wins, ERA, strikeouts), but to lead the National League in six categories (the five listed above and innings pitched) is unthinkable and I don’t think any pitcher will be able to mirror what he did, especially since it was for a last place team. His CY Young performance in 1972 for such a horrible team showcases just how good Carlton was when he took the mound every fifth day.
Being on 95.6% of ballots in 1994 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, it is fair to say that the Phillies legend had more than just one good year. His final stat line reads like this: 329-244, 3.22 ERA, 254 complete games, 55 shutouts, 5.217.2 innings pitched, and 4,136 strikeouts in his 24-year career, mostly with Philadelphia. Some of his individual accomplishments include 10 All-Star selections, four CY Young awards, and one Gold Glove. He topped the 20-win plateau on six different occasions, leading the league four of those times.
He also led the league in innings pitched five times, complete games three times, strikeouts five times, and batters faced seven times. He is one of the best left-handed pitchers in MLB history, holding the #2 spot all time for career strikeouts and wins for southpaws. There is also a testament for his durability, facing over 20,000 batters in his career and being the last pitcher to throw over 300 innings.
It was interesting to read more about Steve Carlton because I’ve only heard stories about how he dominated back in his day, but after seeing the statistics, it makes me respect what he did that much more.