From the “You Had To Be There File”...
He spent most of 1970 in Des Moines, pitching outstandingly for the Triple-A Iowa Oaks of the American Association, posting a 12-3, 2.17 ERA with a 165/55 K/BB in 133 innings with just 88 hits allowed. He made such a positive impression that long-time baseball watchers in Des Moines still talked about his tenure there 20 years later.
Promoted to the majors in September, he made six starts for Oakland and wowed the baseball world by throwing a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins on September 21st. It was no fluke; he had obviously found the mark with the strike zone, posting a 2.09 ERA with a 35/12 K/BB in 39 innings with just 20 hits allowed. This would have put him past rookie qualifications, but he was clearly one of the best young pitchers in the game entering 1971.
He exceeded every possible expectation. He made 39 starts in 1971, completing 24 games, throwing eight shutouts. He won the Cy Young Award, and the American League MVP award, going 24-8 with a league-leading 1.82 ERA, with a 301/88 K/BB ratio and just 209 hits allowed in 312 innings. His ERA+ was 183 and he racked up 8.7 WAR.
It was one of the best pitching campaigns in baseball history, a performance which earned Blue a salary of $14,700, a small sum even then.
...His list of Sim Score comparables: Billy Pierce, Catfish Hunter, Orel Hershiser, Hal Newhouser, Bob Welch, Milt Pappas, Luis Tiant, Kevin Brown, Don Drysdale, and Bucky Walters. His 45.3 WAR puts him in a neighborhood of with some other very successful pitchers: Sam McDowell (46.0), Dennis Martinez (45.7), Jon Matlack (45.5), Hershiser (45.2), and Rube Marquard (44.0). There are some borderline Hall of Famers there, and every one was a star in his time.
Perhaps Vida Blue fell short of what he might have been, but he was still pretty damn special.
Posted: April 08, 2013 at 05:16 AM | 15 comment(s)
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