Chicago Cubs: Taking a look at the Cubs’ top starting rotations in franchise history
, Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
The 1972 Cubs were a good all-around team. The team had many names familiar to fans: Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Leo Durocher… They finished second in the old National League East behind Pittsburgh, which was no small feat in those days.
Offensively, Williams put up MVP-caliber numbers, hitting .333 with 37 home runs. But the pitching was a huge part of the team’s success, as the likes of Ferguson Jenkins, Burt Hooton, Milt Pappas, Bill Hands and Rick Reuschel turned in stellar seasons.
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Combined, the starters turned in a sub 3.00 ERA. They turned in 53 complete games (granted complete games were more common in that era, but it is still an impressive number). Each starter contributed double-digit wins.
They turned in 53 complete games (granted complete games were more common in that era, but it is still an impressive number). Each starter contributed double-digit wins.
Fergie Jenkins was the staff ace. He won 20 games for the Cubs in 1972. Amongst the starters, he actually had the highest ERA at 3.20. But Jenkins led the pitching staff in Wins Above Replacement, with 5.7.
Teammate Milt Pappas led the team in ERA with a 2.77 mark. Though it was near the end of his career, the ’72 season was one of Pappas’ finest. He walked just over one batter per nine innings, posted a 4.3 WAR and pitched the only no-hitter the Cubs would see for over 30 years.
Overall, it was the staff’s WAR that set them up as one of the Cubs all-time best. Due to changes in rules and gameplay, it becomes difficult to compare stats like ERA across the decades.
But WAR compares the success of a particular player against his contemporaries, and here we see the ’72 Cubs rising well above the rest, as Jenkins (5.7), Hooten (5.1), Pappas (4.3), Hands (3.7) and Reuschel (2.9) posted very impressive numbers.
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