The Sporting News announced today that it has named Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton the National League Pitcher of the Year.
The announcement came as a surprise to no one, as the dominant lefty is expected to take home the National League Cy Young hardware as well. The 37-year-old hurler dominated National League hitters, going 23-11 with a 3.10 ERA and 286 strikeouts. Carlton led the league in wins, games started (38), complete games (19), shutouts (6), innings pitched (295 2/3) and strikeouts.
Most pitchers would be winding down at 37, but Carlton is still going strong. He finished with his third most wins in his career (he had 27 in 1972), tied his 1980 strikeout total as his second most (he struck out 310 in that same 1972 season) and he logged his second most career complete games (30 in 1972) and shutouts (8 in 1972). This past season was quite possibly the second best of his career.
This is not Carlton’s first rodeo, of course. It is his fourth Sporting News National League Pitcher of the Year Award (he also won in 1972, 1977 and 1980), and he also won the National League Cy Young Award in each of those same three seasons. Carlton came up third in the voting last season, when Fernando Valenzuela won the award.
While Carlton was the clear winner for the award, the field of competition was much stiffer in the National League than the American League. Montreal’s Steve Rogers (19-8 with a 2.40 ERA) and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela (19-13 with a 2.87 ERA) in particular had seasons that would otherwise be Pitcher of the Year worthy.