The pitching in the National League seemingly took a sharp decline in the quality during the 1970’s – gone were pitchers like Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn, and elder statesmen like Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson were working toward retirement. There were a few younger players beginning to make their mark on baseball as pitchers, but the majority of starting pitchers in the National league during the 1970’s were average at best. There were a number of pitchers however that were very good, just not what would be considered great.
Here is an overview of the best pitchers in the National league during the 1970’s, and a few of their accomplishments:
Tom Seaver was the king of National League pitchers in the 1970’s, winning 20 games or more five times. With nine seasons in the decade with an earned run average of under 3.00, eight seasons with over 200 strikeouts and two Cy Young Awards it would be tough to argue that anyone was better.
Steve Carlton – “Lefty” had four 20 wins seasons and won over 15 games in a season eight times. Carlton had three seasons with an earned.run average of under 3.00, four seasons with over 200 strikeouts, was a five-time all-star and won two Cy Young Awards.
Don Sutton – While not particularly flashy, Don Sutton was consistent and knew the art of pitching very well. Sutton had eight seasons with over 15 wins in the decade with four seasons of under a 3.00 ERA and four all-star appearances.
Fergie Jenkins – Although Jenkins only played four years in the National League during the 1970’s he had three 20 win seasons and had an 80-57 won/loss record in a brief time. Jenkins had two seasons with over 200 strikeouts, was a two-time all-star and won the Cy Young Award in 1971.
Phil Niekro – Niekro was a real inning-eater, pitching over 300 innings in a season four times in the 1970’s. Phil Niekro was a two-time all-star, had two seasons of over 20 wins and eight times won at least 15 games in the decade.
J.R. Richards – Although Richards only had 5 seasons as a full time starter he won at least 18 games four times. Three times Richards had an earned run average of under 3.00, had four seasons of over 200 strikeouts and two seasons of over 300. One can only wonder what his career numbers would have looked like had he not experienced a devastating stroke that ended his career early.
Other pitchers deserving of inclusion: Larry Dierker, Tommy John, Bob Gibson, Randy Jones, Mike Marshall, Rich Gossage