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Friday September 17, 2010 8:19 pm

Denny McLain’s 31 victories untouchable in today’s game?

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Denny McLainIn 1968, Denny McLain won 31 games for the Detroit Tigers during a World Championship season. His 31-victory total has not been touched by any pitcher in baseball since. Detroit’s four-man pitching rotation gave them more opportunities than today’s teams to field higher-quality pitchers throughout the season, and it paid off by the end. Today, with less than three weeks left in the season, we have yet to see a pitcher win 20 games.

McLain’s 31 wins and 1.96 ERA in 336 innings made him an obvious choice to win the AL Cy Young Award and MVP. He repeated as Cy Young champion the next season with a 24-9 record and 2.80 ERA, but that would be his final winning season. Like Pete Rose, McLain’s name has been sullied by gambling accusations. His career ended at the prime age of 28, when he already had 131 career wins in a 10-year career.

Of course, McLain had the benefit of being part of a four-man rotation. In his day, pitchers threw every day which meant their arms were strong and could take 300-plus innings per season. In a game without closers or pitch counts, pitchers lasted longer and were almost expected to throw complete games each outing. There was also not as much known about arm injuries back then as we know today. Guys would throw with injuries that today would see seasons or careers end due to surgery.

Could we ever see another 30-game winner? Not with a five-man rotation. But a lot of people think a team could do the four-man rotation and get rid of the average fifth starter. However, that could only happen if it starts in the minors. Guys would need to be stretched out and groomed for at least a year. Teams could then also take advantage of the extra roster spot. It’s a possibility, but not a probability. There will be no more Denny McLains.



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