Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, what most fans will remember about 1969 is the nine-game lead the Cubs lost to the Mets in September. But what got that team their nine-game lead to begin with was a killer starting rotation consisting of Ferguson Jenkins, Bill Hands, Ken Holtzman and Dick Selma.
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While staff ace Jenkins was typically Jenkins, posting an excellent ERA (3.21) and winning 21 games. Teammate Bill Hands had a career year, posting his lowest ERA as a starter (2.49), winning 20 games, and allowing just 1.1 WHIP. Had it not been for the likes of Hall of Famers
Had it not been for the likes of Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver (who had a ridiculously good year), the Cubs may have brought home some personal awards. Even still, ’69 was the last season the Cubs posted two 20-game winners.
As previously mentioned, there were a lot of good pitchers around in 1969. Reading the list of league leaders is like reading the registry at the Hall of Fame, as it includes the aforementioned Gibson and Seaver, as well as Juan Marichal, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry.
It was a year of high-level competition in the pitching ranks, which makes the Cubs pitchers’ numbers for WAR pretty remarkable. Jenkins had a mark of 7.2.
Hands was second only to the great Gibson and the notable Larry Dierker with a WAR of 8.4. Holtzman and Selma also put up very respectable marks at 4.5 and 2.7, respectively.
This was a good, good staff surrounded by some amazing starting rotations (the Cardinals, Giants and Mets all featured rotations with multiple future Hall of Famers).
That the Cubs held their own against those teams is pretty remarkable. That they were successful against those other teams shows this was a great staff.
Next: And for 2016?