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When 1951 is mentioned, most baseball fans associate the year with Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run, but in 1951, two pitchers on terrible teams accomplished a rare feat. Ned Garver, pitching for the 52-102 St. Louis Browns, and Murray Dickson, who worked for the 64-90 Pittsburgh Pirates, each won 20 games. What is unique is that the Browns' pitcher who was second to Garver in wins, Duane Pillette, won only 6 games, and the Pirates' pitcher who finished second to Dickson was Bill Werle, who won only 8 games.
Twenty Wins on a Team That Lost 102 Games
Ned Garver is the only American League pitcher to win 20 games on a team that lost at least 100 games. He started the All-Star Game for the American League, led the league with 24 complete games, and had a 3.73 ERA, compared 4.37 for the American League. Garver, who was a good hitter, batted .305, with a .365 on base average and a .421 slugging average.
Thirty Five Starts and Thirty Six Decisions
Murray Dickson started 35 games and completed 19 of them in 1951. He pitched 10 games in relief, finishing with 20 wins, 16 losses, and 2 saves. His 4.02 ERA, compared to the National League's 4.20, was considered high, but Dickson received solid run support from a team that batted only .258. Murray Dickson, like Ned Garver, was a pretty good hitter. He hit .273 with a .279 on base average and a .336 slugging average.
Ned Garver and Murray Dickson Did Not Come Close to Steve Carlton
While Ned Garver and Murray Dickson each dominated their team's pitching staff in 1951, they don't come close to Steve Carlton in 1972, who won 27 games. Divisional play had started, and the Phillies finished sixth with a .378 winning percentage, which was 0.001 worse than the Western Division's Padres .379. There was an uneven schedule because baseball's first strike occurred from April 1 to April 13.
Steve Carlton had 27 of the Phillies' 59 victories, which is 45.8% of the team's wins. Darrell Brandon finished second to Carlton with 7 wins. Steve Carlton won 20 more games than the pitcher who finished second in wins on the 1972 Phillies' pitching staff. Carlton started 41 games, completed 30, which is unheard of today, worked 346 1/3 innings, faced 1351 batters, struck out 310 of them, and had a 1.97 ERA, compared to the league's 3.59.
Ned Garver and Murray Dickson Won 20 Games Only Once
Steve Carlton was one of the all-time pitching greats. Ned Garver and Murray Dickson were not, which makes their 1951 seasons even more amazing. Carlton won 20 games in a season six times, but Ned Garver's second best win total was 13, and Murray Dickson's second best win total was 15. Carlton hung on too long and won 329 games. Ned Garver had a relatively short career, winning 129 games, and Murray Dickson, who pitched for 18 seasons, won 172 games. All had one season that no one could have predicted.
All Too Soon