When I was a kid, I read an article about Robin Roberts and his talking about wanting to be elected to the hall of fame. I didn’t really think he belonged as he had “only” 286 victories and not 300.
I know a lot better now. He is easily a hall of famer. He led the National League in victories four straight times and in innings pitched five years in a row. He had these five years between 24 and 28 years old. He won 20 games all five of these years, plus the previous year where he pitched the Phillies to the pennant.
I don’t know if his arm got tired from pitching all those innings, but he was basically a mediocre pitcher for the remaining of his career. He had a couple of good years, but never won 20 again.
It is interesting after the four years of leading the league in wins, he led the league in losses for two years. I wonder how often the leader in wins has led the league in losses the next year.
In 1952 Roberts had his best year. He went 28-7 coming close to winning 30. There was no Cy Young Award, but Roberts was runner-up for the MVP and was the highest ranked pitcher. There is no doubt in my mind he would have won the Cy Young Award. He led the league in games won by 10 and had by far the highest WAR for a pitcher that year. There was no WAR being calculated, but his statistics show he was dominate enough to have an easy victory.
Interesting enough there were two pitchers that came in third and fourth place for the MVP. Both were rookies. They were Joe Black and Hoyt Wilhelm respectively. Both pitched primarily in relief. However, their records when put together is close to the same as Roberts record. Together they were 30-7, so two more when then Roberts had by himself. Roberts pitched 330 innings, the two combined for 309.2 innings. Roberts gave up 22, while the two combined gave up 21 home runs. They did strike out more batters but combined to give up almost double the number of walks.
In the last game of the 1950 season, Robin Roberts won one of the most important games in Phillies history. The Phillies came into the game 1 game ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers. If the Dodgers won, there would be a 2 out of 3 playoffs. Robin Roberts faced Brooklyn ace Don Newcome in the game. Both pitchers gave up one run in the sixth. The game was stilled tied on the bottom of the ninth with Robin Roberts still on the mound. He gave up a walk and single. Now came one of the most famous plays in Phillies history. Duke Snider singled to center. Richie Ashburn who was a great fielder but didn’t have a great arm happen to be closer to the infield than he normally was. He got to the ball quickly and threw out the runner Cal Abrams out at the plate. However, what people probably don’t remember was this was only the first out and the runners advanced on the throw so there were still men on second and third with Jackie Robinson coming to the plate. Roberts intentionally walked Jackie loading the bases. Robert than got Carl Furillo to pop out and Gil Hodges to fly out, extra innings.