We look at the hurlers who had amazing first seasons
Baseball has been filled with great pitchers who started their careers with average performances and slowly developed over the course of several seasons. But for a select few hurlers, success came quickly. Here's our look at the best first-year pitchers in baseball history.
The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Philadelphia Phillies Mt. Rushmore
For a franchise that’s been playing baseball in Philadelphia since 1883, it’s astounding that the organization can boast of only two World Series titles (1980, 2008). The Phillies have won 100 games in a season just twice, but lost that many on 14 occasions. I’m convinced there are two non-negotiable members in this honored quartet: Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt. Beyond that, let’s roll with the discussion.
The 12-time All-Star, two-time MVP, 10-time Gold Glove winner, eight-time home run leader and Hall of Fame third baseman has a .908 OPS during a non-offensive era. He’s suited up for the Phils more than anyone else — 610 time more than anyone. Needless to say — or maybe not — he leads the franchise in home runs, RBIs, hits, runs, walks and strikeouts. Of the 35 players with more than 1,500 runs and RBIs, Schmidt is one of only 17 who have done it with one team.
Lefty’s tops on the all-time list with 241 wins and 3,031 strikeouts. He made 499 starts for the Phillies, 39 of them shutouts on his way to four Cy Young awards. From 1972-83, the workhorse averaged 19 wins, 274 innings and 230 strikeouts.
Grover Cleveland (Pete) Alexander has 190 wins with the Phils and owns the best winning percentage (.676). Perhaps the first ever steal in the Rule 5 Draft as the Phillies drafted him out of the Syracuse organization in 1910. He won 190 games in seven seasons before being dealt to the Cubs for Pickles Dillhoefer, Mike Prendergast and $55,000.
The rightfielder ranks in the top 5 in many categories including home runs, runs, RBIs and total bases. He spent parts of 15 seasons with the Phillies and had 1,705 hits, batted .326 and had more than 950 runs and RBIs.
Close Calls Robin Roberts, a Hall of Famer who spent the first 14 of his 19 seasons toiling for the Phillies, is second to Carlton with 234 wins. From 1949-56, Roberts was 172-111, while the rest of the team was 466-483. In the closest call to date, Roberts was edged by Klein.
Richie Ashburn, a four-time All-Star with the Phillies, had 2,217 hits — 17 behind Schmidt — and batted .311 in 12 seasons.
The mysterious Ed Delahanty, who had four brothers in the major leagues, collected 2,214 hits for the Phillies, but 1,848 of them were in the 1800s. That’s a long time ago for fans to really embrace someone.
The top current Phillie is Jimmy Rollins, although Ryan Howard is gaining ground quickly. The shortstop already ranks in the top five in total bases, hits and runs.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com