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Felix Hernandez won the 2010 AL Cy Young today, despite 12 losses and just 13 wins.The baseball analytics community counted it as a huge victory, as baseball’s old-timers finally realised a dominant season supersedes won-loss record.
But as dominant as Hernandez’s season was, it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the greatest pitching performances since they raised the mound in 1968.
While most pitchers are long retired, Randy Johnson posted an amazing season at age 38, winning his last of five Cy Young Awards: 260 IP, 24-5, 2.32 ERA, 334 Ks.
Other notable seasons:
2001: 249.2 IP, 21-6, 2.49 ERA, 372Ks
1999: 271.2 IP, 17-9, 2.48 ERA, 364 Ks (12 complete games).
1995: 214.1 IP, 18-2, 2.48 ERA, 294 Ks
Before the bloody sock, and the annoying comments in the media, Schilling was among the game's greats. Check out his 2001 campaign for proof: 256.2 IP, 22-6, 2.97 ERA, 293Ks. Too bad his teammate beat him out for the Cy Young award.
His 1997 was another Cy Young runner-up year: 254.1 IP, 17-11, 2.98 ERA, 319 Ks.
Arguably the best pitcher in the most difficult era for pitchers ever, Martinez put up several astounding seasons. Perhaps none more impressive than in 2000, the best offensive season in baseball history: 217 IP, 18-6, 1.74 ERA, 284 Ks (4 complete game shutouts).
Other great Pedro seasons:
1999: 213 IP, 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313Ks
1997: 241 IP, 17-8, 1.90 ERA, 305Ks (13 complete games)
Great as he was with the Red Sox, the Rocket's inconsistency grated team management. In 1996, they let him go to Toronto and famously claimed the hurler was in the 'twilight of his career.' Here's how he responded in 1997: 264 IP, 21-7, 2.05 ERA, 292 Ks.
Also worth noting:
1990: 228.1 IP, 21-7, 1.93 ERA, 209 Ks
2005: 211.1 IP, 13-8, 1.87 ERA, 185 Ks.
Master of command, Greg Maddux won four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in the early 1990s, and each season was better than the one before, culminating in 1995: 209.2 IP, 19-2, 1.63 ERA, 181Ks (10 complete games).
Other great Maddux seasons:
1994: 202 IP, 17-6, 1.56 ERA, 156Ks.
1998: 251 IP, 18-9, 2.22 ERA, 204Ks.
In his second season, Doc Gooden posted one of the best seasons in baseball history. Check out these 1985 numbers: 276 IP, 24-4, 1.53 ERA, 268 Ks (16 complete games, 8 shutouts).
Known more for his longevity than his single-season dominance, Nolan Ryan put together a 1981 season that makes King Felix look like a middle of the rotation guy. If only the season wasn't cut short by the strike.
149 IP, 11-5, 1.69 ERA, 140 Ks.
While the Bronx was Burning, Louisiana Lightning was throwing absolute heat en route to the 1978 Cy Young. Sure wins and losses might be obsolete, but 25-3 is nothing to sneeze at: 273 IP, 25-3, 1.73 ERA, 248 Ks (8 shutouts).
The four-time Cy Young Award winner recorded his best season immediately after the Cardinals made the mistake of trading him to the Phillies in 1972: 346 IP, 27-10, 1.97 ERA, 310 Ks (30 complete games! 8 shutouts)
Eight years later he posted another season for the ages: 304 IP, 24-9, 2.34 ERA, 286 Ks
Blue was absolutely dominant in his first full-season, and he was awarded the MVP in addition to the Cy Young: 312 IP, 24-8, 1.82 ERA, 301 Ks (24 complete games, 8 shutouts).
Gibson's 1968 season is the benchmark by which all great pitching seasons are judged. It also exemplifies the absurdity of the won-loss statistic -- Gibson lost 9 games despite posting the lowest ERA ever.
304 IP, 22-9, 1.12 ERA, 268 Ks (28 complete games, 13 shutouts)
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