1973 Montréal Expos
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Managed by Gene Mauch
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Ron Fairly
- Player of the Year: Mike Marshall
- NL Reliever of the Year Award: Mike Marshall
- NL Gold Glove : Mike Jorgensen (1B)
- Best Rookie: Steve Rogers
- Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Steve Rogers (RhP)
- Manager of the Year Award: Gene Mauch
- Players of the month:
- Minor League Player of the Year: Barry Foote (Peninsula Whips AAA)
- Minor League Pitcher of the Year: John Montague (Peninsula Whips AAA)
The 1973 Montreal Expos were unlikely invitees to the National League East division title race. After all, the 1972 team had finished 16 games below .500, and 26 1/2 games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates. On top of that, the team had traded one of its top starters, Carl Morton, to the Atlanta Braves in return for Pat Jarvis, who only pitched 39 innings for the Expos, while their ace pitcher, Bill Stoneman, was sidelined by a back injury in spring training and sported an ugly 6.77 ERA when he came back. Yet, the team not only held together, but was very competitive in a division in which no team managed to pull away.
The season started fairly inauspiciously, and by the end of May, the Expos were in a familiar position, in 4th place and trailing by six games already. Worse, at the All-Star break, their record was an uninspiring 44-51, which put them in 5th place, but still only six games behind. The Expos won six of their first seven games after the break but did not reach .500 until September 15th, when an extra-inning win against the Philadelphia Phillies (Boxscore) evened their record at 73-73, and brought them within a game and a half of the lead. 34,331 spectators packed Jarry Park that day, the largest crowd in its history, and well over the stadium's official capacity of 28,000! After two more home victories, the Expos found themselves in a virtual tie for first place on September 17th, before losing 9 of their next 10 games. Coming into the season's last series, the Expos still had not been mathematically eliminated, although they eventually finished fourth, 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets who had started the season on an even worse note that the Expos.
Manager Gene Mauch gathered much of the praise for the Expos' remarkable season and was voted National League Manager of the Year. Of particular note was his aggressive use of his bullpen, as he used closer Mike Marshall for a then record 92 games, and had him pitch an incredible 249 2/3 innings in relief! The team's top starter was Steve Renko, who rebounded from an awful season to log a record of 15-11, 2.81 in 34 starts while rookie Steve Rogers was only called up on July 16th, but posted a 10-5, 1.64 record over the season's second half. On the down side of the ledger, the team's other three starters, Ernie McAnally, Mike Torrez and Balor Moore all struggled and posted losing records.
The offense was led by right-fielder Ken Singleton, who had his first great season, scoring and driving in over 100 runs while walking 123 times. Other major contributors were third baseman Bob Bailey, who hit .273 with 26 home runs and 86 runs batted in, and left fielder Ron Fairly, who hit .298 and walked 86 times. First baseman Mike Jorgensen only batted .230, but won the Expos' first ever Gold Glove, a rarity on a defense that was regularly decried by Mike Marshall as painfully inadequate. Off the bench, first baseman Hal Breeden had the only productive season of his Major League career, but it was a doozy, as he slugged for .535 and hit four pinch home runs. Shortstop and catcher, manned respectively by Tim Foli and John Boccabella, were offensive black holes, however.
This was to be Montreal's best season until the Expos finally recorded a winning season in 1979.
- Rory Costello: "Montreal's first lead in a pennant race; September 17, 1973: Expos 5, St. Louis Cardinals 4 At Jarry Park (First Game Of A Twi-night Doubleheader)", in Norm King, ed.: Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016, pp. 20-22. ISBN 978-1-943816-15-6
- Gregory H. Wolf: "Steve Rogers tosses one-hit shutout to win first big-league game; July 26, 1973: Montreal Expos 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0 At Veterans Stadium", in Norm King, ed.: Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016, pp. 17-19. ISBN 978-1-943816-15-6