Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Steve Carlton (#255)

Ok, after much delay, I have finally added text to this blog post. 

Steve Carlton, who is the greatest Phillies’ left-handed pitcher in their history, began his career with the Cardinals in the mid-1960s.

Carlton was signed by the Cardinals in 1963, and spent only one season in the minors (1964), compiling a 15-6 record, before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals in April 1965.

During his rookie season, he pitched in 11 games prior to the end of June, and then not again until late August, when he pitched 4 times over the season’s last 5 weeks. (I assume he was on the DL in July and August, because he has no minor-league record for 1965.)

Carlton was back in the minors to start the 1966 season, and after compiling a 9-5 record in 19 starts, he rejoined the Cardinals in late July, and pitched 9 games in the final 2 months of the season.

Steve began the 1967 season as the team’s 5th starter, and finished the season with a 14-9 record and an appearance in the World Series.

Carlton pitched for the Cardinals through the 1971 season, bouncing back from a 10-19 record in 1970 to a 20-9 record in 1971.

After the season, he was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Rick Wise. Both pitchers were involved in contract squabbles with their respective teams. (Imagine trading away a 20-game winner!)

Here is Carlton's first card as a Phillie.

Lefty’s first season with the Phillies was one for the record books. He led the NL in all these categories: 27 wins (the Phillies only won 59 games that season!), a 1.97 ERA, 310 strikeouts, 41 starts, 30 complete games, and 346 innings pitched. He also only walked 87 batters (a 310/87 strikeout/walk ratio!) All this earned Carlton his 1st of 4 Cy Young awards.

As if worn out by his 1972 feats, Carlton lost a league-leading 20 games in 1973, although he also led the NL in starts, complete games, and innings pitched. He also struck out 223 batters in ’73.

Lefty pitched for the Phillies until late-June 1986. Along the way, he won 20 or more games 4 times (’76, ’77, ’80, and ’82) winning the Cy Young award in ’77, ’80, and ‘82, and led the NL in strikeouts in ’74, ’80, ’82, and ’83. He was also a combined 6-5 in six post-seasons between 1976 and 1983.

After going 1-8 in 1985, and starting the 1986 season at 4-8, the Phillies released their long-time ace on June 24th. In a classic example of not knowing when to retire, Carlton bounced around for several more seasons with the Giants (July ‘86), White Sox (Aug-Sep ‘86), Indians (Apr-Jul ‘87), and Twins (Aug ’87 – Apr ’88) before retiring.

Carlton finished his career with a 329-244 record, 4136 strikeouts, and a 3.22 ERA. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.


Douglas said...

Jim, there a book about Carlton's 1972 season, have you read it? The discrepancy between his performance and the rest of the team is amazing. If he had been hurt all season, what do you think would have been the Phillies record had been? Worse than the 62 Mets? All in all an amazing season.

bobrzik said...

Re: Steve Carlton in 1965. There was some kind of rule back then where they had to keep players on the big league roster after their first year (maybe a modification of the old "bonus baby" rule?), so he was with the Cardinals for the entire year even though he didn't pitch much. They kept Nelson Briles on the roster for the same reason, but they did manage to use him more.