Tom Seaver 1.76
Dave Roberts 2.10
Don Wilson 2.45
Tom Seaver finished 2nd in the 1971 Cy Young balloting. As you can see, he won the ERA title by quite a large margin over Dave Roberts and Don Wilson. As we go through the rest of the pitching leader cards I'm wondering how he didn't win the Cy Young, or at least finish a little closer to Fergie Jenkins. His record is what got him. He was only 20-10. He had career highs in complete games (21), strikeouts (289) and ERA (1.76). His neutralized stats worked out to 24-7 with a 2.06 ERA. I'll get to Jenkins later.
Well, where the NL West wasn't well represented on the hitting leaderboards, its well-represented on the pitching leaderboards. Only the Braves don't have a Top Ten ERA pitcher and I'm a little surprised that the hapless Padres have 2 in the Top 10. Dave Roberts had his best year in the big leagues, and was rewarded with a 14-17 record for the Padres. He was sent to the Astros in 1972 and started winning games. Neutralizing his 1971 stats would have gotten him a 20-9 record. If the Pads had started league average pitchers instead of Roberts and Clay Kirby I wonder how much worse they would have been than 61-100.
AL ERA Leaders
Vida Blue 1.82
Wilbur Wood 1.91
Jim Palmer 2.68
1971 was the year of Vida Blue. Vida won everything (except the All-Star Game and his LCS start), including the hearts and minds of America's baseball fans. Who wouldn't like the stylish young man with the big windup and memorable name wearing the wild green & gold uniforms?
Wilbur Wood was a big story. He went from 21 saves in 1970 to 334 innings in 1971. He took that knuckleball to the hill for 15 starts on 2 days rest. Five of those starts came down the stretch in September. If the Red Sox threw Tim Wakefield out there like that when they were 20 games out, they'd be ridiculed for harming him. In 1972 the Sox threw him out there even more.
Jim Palmer was a distant 3rd in the hunt. Two of the other Oriole 20 game winners made the Top 10, but Mike Cuellar didn't. If Dave Roberts and Clay Kirby were the surprise names on the NL list, there's no doubt that Mike Hedlund is the surprise name on this list -- and this is after him missing 1970 with the Hong Kong Flu.