There will never be another Denny McLain. I don’t mean a player with a swashbuckling approach to
the game, who not only could play the organ but was renowned for his off field antics. In that regard, there are many Denny McLains. You could make a strong case McLain is tame by today’s standards. I mean there will never be another pitcher who wins 30 games in a season.
McLain wins 30th
On this date, Sept. 14, 1968, McLain won his 30th game of the season for the Detroit Tigers. He became the first major league hurler to win 30 games in a season, since Dizzy Dean won 30 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934. It is safe to say these will be the last two 30-game winners in MLB history.
The way the game is played today, no pitcher will ever have a 30-win season. Heck, we’re lucky if a pitcher gets 30 starts in a season. The year ‘Ol Diz won 30, he started 33 games and relieved in 17. He completed 24 games and threw 311.2 innings. The next season, Dean won 28 games, started 36, relieved in 14 and tossed 325.1 innings. He also registered a career-high 29 complete games.
In McLain’s historic season, he won 31 of his 41 starts and did not relieve. He also completed 28 games and tossed a career-high 336 innings.
Complete games historic
These days it’s headlines (remember them?) if you pitch a complete game. In 1975 Catfish Hunter, in his first season with the New York Yankees, completed 30 games. You’re not reading things, that’s 30 complete games in 39 starts. He went 23-14 and threw a career-high 328 innings.
If a pitcher starts 30 games in a season today, it’s a miracle. A complete game? That’s near a miracle. Like it or not, baseball has changed, but if you’re a history buff like me, cherish the memories. The days of 30-game winners are gone. And those complete games? They’re almost history too.