Stats and Ranks
Some Interesting Stats and Facts
- 2nd highest WAR of any pitching season in MLB history (Walter Johnson, 1913)
- Won 27 games, while entire team won only 59 on the season
- 19 of his starts were 9+ innings, allowing 1 run or less
- Had 2 games where he pitched 11 innings, 1 where he pitched 10 innings (a shut-out)
- 6 more wins, 57 more innings, 61 more strikeouts and 7 more complete games than any other NL pitcher in 1972.
- One of only 8 seasons since 1920 where a pitcher pitched 300+ innings with an ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP under 1.00. Carlton pitched the most innings of any of the 8.
- Opposing hitters had a combined .548 OPS for the season (1,350 PA)
- The opposing clean-up hitter hit only 1 HR off him the entire season (152 PA)
- With 2 outs and RISP, he held hitters to a .147 BA on the year.
Why He’s Here
For as tough as it was to rank all these seasons, it wasn’t tough at all to pick #1.
When you talk about the best pitching seasons in baseball history, the conversation will almost always include Carlton’s 1972 campaign.
The thing that is talked about most is his wins compared to the teams total, which is an incredible stat, but really more of a fluke than anything else. I can expand in the comments if you wish, but won’t do so here.
Really – this season would have been number 1 regardless of win total.
Because Roy Halladay’s season is fresh in our minds, I keep going back to it for comparisons and will do so again here. Halladay started 33 games this year, Carlton started 41 in ’72, 32 of those starts were on 3 days rest. He had 4 more starts than anyone in the NL and only 9 pitchers had more starts than Halladay’s 33.
Halladay finished 9 of his 33 games, averaging 7.6 innings per start. Carlton finished an incredible 30 of his 41 games, included 3 extra inning games. He averaged 8.4 innings per start. Halladay had 4 shutouts, Carlton twice as many.
Despite pitching almost 100 innings more than Halladay, he only allowed 8 more runs, keeping his ERA under 2.
He struck out 310, one of only 11 pitchers to reach that mark in a single season.
According the most all-encompassing, advanced metric we have available, WAR, this was the 2nd best pitching season in MLB history. If you include hitting seasons, this would measure as the 11th best season, by any player, in MLB history. The only players with a better season are Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby and Mickey Mantle. Truly one of the greatest ever, and certainly the greatest in Phillies history.
So that’s it for this project, I guess. Obviously this list started at 20, but has morphed to 22 due to Halladay and the separating out of the pre-1900 folks. It’s possible I will move this out to 25, and add 3 more to get to an even number. If you have any suggestions for who would be in consideration for those 3 spots, please feel free to share in the comments.
#10. Dick Allen, 1966
#11. Jimmy Rollins, 2007
#12. Billy Hamilton, 1894
#13. Ed Delahanty, 1895
#14. Curt Schilling, 1997
#15 - Lefty O’Doul, 1929
#16 - Brad Lidge, 2008
#17 - Chris Short, 1964
#18 - John Denny, 1983
#19 - Tug McGraw, 1980
#20 - Greg Luzinksi, 1977
#21 - Gavvy Cravath, 1913
#22 - Lenny Dykstra, 1993
Five pitchers that just missed (and criteria for rankings)