Saturday, November 04, 2006

November 4th, 1980

Steve Carlton Wins Cy Young Award

This was Lefty's third Cy Young award, making him at the time only the fourth man--along with Jim Palmer, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver--to win the award that many times. (Since joined, of course, by Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson.) Carlton is a no-brainier choice for the Hall of Fame, he has three hundred wins, won twenty or more six times and was a ten time All-Star and was rightly elected in 1994.

I bring up the Hall of Fame element because it raises an interesting point: how many single-season awards does a player have to win before they are worthy of Hall of Fame induction regardless of the rest of their career. As it stands, every player who has three (or more) MVP or Cy Young awards is either in the Hall of Fame or is a sure thing to someday be elected. (I suppose the exception to that is Barry Bonds' and his seven MVPs, but it is worth noting that he had won three by 1993 so he qualifies even leaving out the BALCO portion of his career.)

What I can say for sure is that two awards of that nature are insufficient to ensure Hall of Fame election. In fact, there is a small handful of players with two awards who are clearly not Hall of Famers. Those with two MVP awards who are almost certainly not Hall of Famers include Juan Gonzalez, Dale Murphy, and Roger Maris. Bret Saberhagen and Denny McLain both have two Cy Young awards but McLain dropped off the ballot after three years and Saberhagen will be lucky to last that long. (Incidentally, McLain also won the MVP in 1968, meaning he actually has three awards total, but since two of them were awarded for the same performance set, I don't think it counts in the same way as having three awards of some nature from three different seasons.)

If Denny McLain had managed another Cy Young award or Dale Murphy another MVP would that put them in the Hall of Fame? I would tend to think not, but until an otherwise undeserving player has three awards I guess we'll never know.

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