By Glen Sparks
There was a time when pitchers didn’t think much about winning 40 games in one season. That time was the Gilded Age.
Between 1877 and 1908, big-league pitchers won at least 40 games in one season 37 times. A few pitchers, such as Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn, James “Pud” Galvin and Will White, did it more than once. Radbourn set the single-season mark with 59 wins for the Providence Greys in 1884. No pitcher has hit the 40-win mark since Ed Walsh compiled a sterling 40-15 record for the 1908 White Sox.
The Tigers’ Denny McLain was the last pitcher to win at least 30 games in one season. He went 31-6 in 1968. (Who are the biggest single-season winners in baseball since 1968?) The last National League pitcher to win 30 games was Dizzy Dean, for the 1934 Cardinals.
Since 2000, pitchers have reached 20 victories in a season 23 times. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright have done it in 2014. (The Reds’ Johnny Cueto has 19 wins and may have one more start this season. Dazzy Vance update: Cueto did indeed get another start, and he was as good as usual. He finished the season 20-9. Congrats, Johnny, one of baseball’s top pitchers.)