May 21, 2010
Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses in a Season: Steve Carlton, 1973
The surprising thing about the list of those that have compiled 20 losses in a season, is that many of them were not bad pitchers over the whole of their career. It's just that for one season sometimes your arm is tired from 30 complete games and 346 innings the previous year. Is that a viable explanation? Or you start, 40 games and get a decision in 33 of them. How many pitchers have 33 decisions in a season anymore? Suffice to say, Steve Carlton followed his 1972 ( I would put forth this is one of the ten greatest pitching seasons of the past 40 years) with a not so stellar performance in 1973. He had 20 losses, 3.90 ERA (97 ERA+), 113 BB, and league leading totals 127 ER allowed (and a league-leading 293 IP and 1262 batters faced), 293 Hits allowed, and 18 complete games.
Something was not quite the same. His K rate declined from 8.1 to 6.8 K/9 and his BB rate climbed from 2.3 to 3.5 BB/9. Was he unlucky? Well, not especially. He had seven losses from quality starts. Only 3 or 4, I would characterize as extremely unlucky. In the majority of his losses, he just did not seem to have the proverbial it. The league average was 4.15 runs/game and he allowed 4 or more runs in losses 12 times.
Welcome to the list, 1974 Topps Steve Carlton.