By Glen Sparks
Robin Roberts’ peak years just missed the Cy Young Award era. If Baseball had started giving out the award in 1950, Roberts may have taken home a couple.
The Philadelphia Phillies’ right-hander pitched on seven All-Star teams and won at least 20 games six straight years. Roberts played on his last All-Star team in 1956, the inaugural season for the Cy Young Award. (Who won the first Cy Young Award? Remember that the award was given to just one pitcher until 1967.) Actually, that was kind of a dull year for the Phillies’ ace. He finished with a 19-18 record and a 4.45 ERA (83 ERA+).
From 1950 through 1955, Roberts was as good as anybody. He won 138 games, accumulated 46.4 WAR points and finished first in WAR for pitchers every year between 1950 and 1954. (Warren Spahn of the Boston/Milwaukee Braves was the runner-up every season except ‘54. That year, he was fourth.) He led the National League in wins four straight years (1952-55).
The case for Roberts as the premier pitcher throughout much of the ‘50s only gets better. He was first in games started six straight times (1950-55) innings pitched five straight times (1951-55), complete games five straight times (1952-56) and strikeouts two straight times (1953-54).