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Leading the League in Complete Games, Shutouts, and … Saves?

Posted by Neil Paine on May 16, 2011

B-R reader Nash noticed something interesting about Mordecai Brown's black ink this weekend:

"Everyone talks about unbreakable records (DiMaggio's 56, Cy Young's 511, etc.), and I know that this is in the context of the 'dead ball' era, so I don't know how relevant this is -- but in 1910, Mordecai Brown led the league in CG, SHO, and ... SAVES.

Don't think that anyone will pull THAT off again anytime soon!"

Keep in mind that the save policy we're using for pre-1950 seasons is the so-called "encyclopedia rule" (a pitcher who finished a game his team won, but did not get the win himself, is awarded a save). Still, Brown is just one of four pitchers since 1901 to lead his league in complete games, shutouts, and saves in the same season:

Player Year Lg CG SHO SV
Cy Young 1903 AL 34 7 2
Christy Mathewson 1908 NL 34 11 5
Ed Walsh 1908 AL 42 11 6
Mordecai Brown 1910 NL 27 6 7

Like Nash says, this is one club that's unlikely to expand beyond its four current members anytime soon.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011 at 2:55 pm and is filed under History, Leaders, Mailbag, Stats. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

19 Responses to “Leading the League in Complete Games, Shutouts, and … Saves?”

  1. John Autin Says:

    I was surprised to find that Lefty Grove never achieved that trifecta.
    Grove led in Saves in 1930, then in CG & SHO both '31 and '32; the latter year he was 3rd in Saves with 7.

  2. John Autin Says:

    Also worth noting:

    -- Miner Brown's most important relief outing was probably the 1908 finale, the replay of the "Merkle game," relieving Jack "The Giant Killer" Pfiester in the 1st inning and going the distance to best Christy Mathewson

    -- By 1911, Cubs manager Frank Chance had become so enamored of Brown's fireman act that he brought Brownie in 26 times in relief, just shy of his 27 starts that year. Brown's 24 Games Finished that year was more than the previous record of 21, held by Doc Crandall -- but Crandall broke his own record that same season with 26 GF.

  3. John Autin Says:

    The last player with multiple Shutouts and Saves in the same season was Jeff Weaver in 2002. Weaver had 3 shutouts (including a 1-hitter) in 17 starts for Detroit before being traded to the Yankees. He promptly got pounded in his first 4 starts for New York, and was dropped from the rotation for a couple weeks, during which he picked up two 3-inning saves. Weaver led the AL in shutouts that year, and he led again in 2007, despite a season ERA of 6.20.

  4. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Neil, as play-by-play accounts are added for pre-1950 games, will B-R go back and apply the 1969 rule to those games?

  5. Carl Hubbell also led the NL in complete games and saves in 1934 but finished 4th in wins with 21. And Dizzy Dean who lead the league in wins that same year with 30 was second in both complete games and saves. Then Dean went on to lead the league in complete games and saves in '36 but finished second in wins to Hubbell, who was also second in complete games but only 9th in saves.

    I thought Allie Reynolds might also be close but the best I could find was '52 when he was 5th in wins and 4th in both complete games and saves.

  6. Ellis Kinder also had a season ('49) for Boston where he finished 2nd in wins and 5th in both saves and complete games.

  7. @3 - that is interesting and crazy at the same time. It also makes me think that leading the league in shutouts in this day and age has very little value as a way of evaluating a pitcher. Should it even be considered as "black ink" from now on?

  8. John Autin Says:

    @7, Argman -- I see your point. On the other hand, it's much harder to lead the league in anything nowadays than it was in an 8-team league.

  9. Anybody can do this again as long as the rules are put back to 1910

  10. My bad. I was looking wins instead of shutouts. But it still applies: Kinder and Reynolds both lead the league in shutouts their respective seasons and in '34 Dean and Hubbell were 1st & 2nd respectively. In '36 they reversed places but finished 8th & 9th... but only 1 or 2 behind 7 guys tied for first.

  11. John Autin Says:

    Tangent alert:
    I've heard of taking one for the team, but I've never seen anything like this:
    In KC tonight, the Indians are pounding the bejabbers out of the Royals by 19-1 after 6 innings.

    Fourteen runs allowed ... by one reliever?

    With starter Kyle Davies leaving in the 1st with an injury, KC turned to erstwhile starter Vin Mazzaro in the 3rd. Mazzaro got through that inning cleanly, but allowed 10 runs in the 4th (9 of them with 2 out), and 4 more in the 5th. That's 14 runs, all earned, in 2.1 IP.

    There has not been a 14-run relief outing in the majors since WWII. The last 12-run relief outing was in 1950. The last reliever to allow 11 runs (Mel Rojas, 1999) was released 2 weeks later.

  12. John Autin Says:

    Tangent, continued:
    All 9 Cleveland starters have at least 1 hit and 1 run scored, and 8 of them have at least 1 RBI. (But don't blame Carlos Santana -- he's walked 3 times.)

    The last time all 9 starters got at least 1 hit, 1 run and 1 RBI was 2008-08-22, Cardinals beating Atlanta, 18-3. Yep -- an NL team, with the pitcher batting. Adam Wainwright pitched 6 innings and batted 5 times, collecting 3 hits.

  13. co-tangent: Mazzaro was sent down after his "effort" tonight.

  14. Nash Bruce Says:

    @11, no worries, Vin Mazzaro, still has a spot, on the '11 Twins:(((.........<>

  15. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @9/ "Dave Says: "Anybody can do this again as long as the rules are put back to 1910"

    Dave, well... no. Up until the mid-1950s, what we call the "closer" role was often filled by the team's best starter (though for far fewer games). In the late 50s, rotations wstarted to be followed more strictly for the entire season (because of the increased reliability of air travel), and the best pitchers were only starters, with the exception of one/two emergency relief appearances a year.

    Nowadays, a closer can become a starter (Derek Lowe), a starter can become a closer (Dennis Eckersley), but they change their roles between seasons; they don't do _both_ in the same season, with the rare exceptions of the sort John A. mentioned in #3. This was not the case before the late 50s. In a sense, a team's best pitcher (such as Walsh and Brown) was often both the "ace" and the "closer".

  16. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ John Autin

    Grove seemed to have been kept in the bullpen, averaging only 30 starts a season from '30-'33, arguably his 4 best years. He made at least 10 bullpen appearances during that span.
    His high GS during that span was only 32, this when many guys were in the mid-40s as a # 1 starter.
    Do you have any info why Grove was used like this?

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Duke, that's not so. After the deadball era, pretty much no one started 40+ games in a season until the '60s. The leaders in Grove's time would have 35-38 starts. Grove usually had a few less, but was still near the top of the IP leaders due to all his relief work.

    While those were very good A's teams, the other pitchers usually weren't overwhelming. Perhaps Mack felt it was often better to pull them after 7 innings or so and let Grove finish it out, rather than let them fall apart at the end. But....I see that those teams were usually near the top of the AL in CG. So, I'm not sure.

  18. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I know there's been a lot written about Grove's usage patterns. I just can't remember the details. Hopefully someone knows or can find a link. I have a recollection that Grove was sort of moody and didn't want to pitch all the time. And also that he may not have pitched against the Yankees that much (don't know why).

  19. I think there were 2 other ways in which pitcher usage differed between Grove's time and ours. There was no rotation in the way we think of it today, where we could pick many of the starters a month from now today. Doubleheaders, both scheduled and due to rainouts had a lot to do with this, as did train travel. Pitchers
    were matched up by the quality of the opposition, and platoon factors. Grove made the most starts against Detroit, who won 3 pennants while Lefty was in the league, and second most against the Yanks, who won 9. If he could have been used like a post 1960 pitcher, he would have had more starts and wins, and almost all other stats would be better because he would be pitching more against the bad teams and less against the good ones.