Nov 6, 2011

Phillies Project Update: Steve Carlton was a Cardinal First?? You don't say....

Steve "Lefty" Carlton, the Phillies pitcher in its history who has had the most success over the longest period of time.   One can look to Grover Cleveland Alexander as having the most dominant stretch ever for a pitcher in a Phillies uniform or one can look to Robin Roberts with a 5 year run as impressive as any.  However, Carlton was the only one to sustain varying degrees of excellence in a Phillies uniform for 15 years (1972-1985).  This is a long career even in the most judicious of circumstances, and yet it has always been jarring for me to see his early cards as a member of the (now immensely disliked through the end of 2011) Cards. 

Steve Carlton as a Card was nearly 6 years in the making as a potentially premiere pitcher of the spheroid.   Summary of the performance is presented below.  There was life before 1972, you know (though I didn't experience it. And if I did, I would be older than I am, in which case, I would be someone else).  Images of the Steve Carlton as a Card consistently proves this.

His career began as a precocious youth at the age of 19 in 1965, making his first two career starts while mostly being a reliever: 21 Ks in 25 IP showed the promise.   1966 came and went with him spending most of the year at AAA Tulsa, making only 9 major league starts and struggling a bit with a 1.42 WHIP and only 25 K in 52 innings.  1967 was a breakout year for Carlton with a 14-9 record, 2.98 ERA, and 11 complete games (CG) in 28 starts.  His strikeout rate of 7.8 K/9 was one of the highest of his career.

1968 had a similar performance (13-11, 2.99 ERA, and 162 K in 232 innings), but his ERA+ decreased from 110-97 because of the crazy low run-scoring environment of 1968.  1969 was the first time in his career he placed in the top 10 in the leage in K with 210 in  236 innings, his walk rate spiked a bit from the previous two years, but he still managed a 2.17 ERA, 2nd in the league.  1970 was a regression of sorts since his walk rate climbed even higherto 3.9 BB/9, finishing 3rd in the league with 109 BB, so he finished 10-19 with a 3.73 ERA.  1971 decreased both the walk and K rate from the previous year, but he reversed his fortunes and had his first 20 win season of his career finishing 20-9 with a 3.56 ERA even though the K rate was the lowest of his career until he was 42 years old.

It was at this point, that the challenge trade occurred for a talented Rick Wise coming off his career year in 1971.  Carlton had a much stronger profile, though they seemed similar on the surface.  The foundation to have a higher peak was already established. (though no one predicted a season quite like 1972).

So, here ends the quest for every mainstream affordable issue Phillies card from the 1980 Phillies World Series team (I am excepting the Carlton and Schmidt rookies for now).  This offseason, I intend to scan the binder.  I hope it happens; it's quite the trip down memory lane.


Jim said...

Definitely looking forward to seeing the scans of the binder. What a great collection it must be!

Fuji said...

Great post... I'm a huge fan of Lefty. I currently am hunting down all of his regular issue Topps base cards from his playing days.