Dean Chance

The Triple Crown for pitching is awarded for leading the league in wins, ERA, and K's.  It is somewhat more common than the hitter’s version, but it still quite an achievement.  In my lifetime, ten different pitchers have won this informal award, the latest being Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw (both in 2011).  In the 1960s only one pitcher achieved this feat, Sandy Koufax (in 1963, 1965, and 1966).  

Let’s see if there are any contenders 70 or so games into the IBC season.  We’ll begin by looking at pitchers in the Top 10 in the ERA, Wins, and K races.  Below I will list those who made the list in at least two of the three categories:

Player, Team                   ERA        Wins      K's 
Gaylord Perry, Council Bluffs  1.73 (1)   11 (1)    50 (x) 
Dean Chance, Cedar Rapids      2.26 (2)    9 (3)    84 (5) 
Sonny Siebert, Sioux City      2.31 (3)    4 (x)    46 (x) 
Tom Seaver, West Metro         2.49 (4)    8 (6)    75 (8)  
Bob Gibson, Davenport          2.53 (5)   10 (2)    87 (3)  
Luis Tiant, Sioux City         2.55 (6)    6 (x)   127 (1)
Steve Blass, Ames              2.90 (10)   9 (3)    47 (x)
Fergie Jenkins, Des Moines     3.06 (x)    7 (10)   86 (4)
Denny McLain, Davenport        3.09 (x)    8 (6)    75 (8)
Don Drysdale, Cedar Rapids     3.48 (x)    7 (10)   75 (8)

Gaylord Perry is the odds-on favorite to win the Cy Young Award as the league’s best pitcher, but doesn’t have the punch-outs to vie for the pitching Triple Crown.  It turns out to be pretty hard to rank highly in this trifecta; just three pitchers are among the leaders in all of them.  Let’s think of them as our main contenders: Dean Chance, Tom Seaver, and Bob Gibson. 

Luis Tiant

It seems to me that there is a lot of volatility in the ERA and Wins categories.  For instance, as much Gaylord Perry seems to be a lock to win 20 and be tops in ERA (given his team is in 1st place and features a good defense), he could easily hit a streak where he loses some pitching duels and/or coughs up some untimely homers that lead to crooked numbers.  But the K category seems far less prone to flux, and this makes Luis Tiant’s current lead of 40 seem all but insurmountable.  So while Luis is way behind in the Wins column, he’s more likely to end the year atop that category (given some luck) than Seaver is to pass him in K’s. Keep in mind there are no injuries in the IBC, so Tiant’s going to get his 250 innings.

Bob Gibson

Looking more closely at the Strikeout leaders, it is interesting that Tiant’s teammate, Sam McDowell, is #2 on the list.  But given Sioux City is just a .500 club, it will be tough for either man to put together a long winning streak — McDowell is basically already out of the running at 4-9, and Tiant at 6-6 needs a miracle finish.  The chances seem much better for the man with the third-highest total, Bob Gibson.  Gibby’s team, the Knights, feature a great defence and it is easy to envision him ending up with the most wins and best ERA.  He is also good for 300 IP, fifty more than Tiant, which will potentially help him close the K deficit.  His chances are definitely better than Perry’s, but still not great.

Dean Chance

I’m thinking Tom Seaver is just too far off the pace to be a serious Triple Crown threat (and his team stinks, making the Wins category a particularly tough go), so we’re left with Dean Chance as our last best hope.  Cedar Rapids is currently 38-33, which means his supporting cast is good enough for him to continue to put up some nice numbers.  As with Gibby, he can work more innings than Tiant, so there is at least some chance for Dean to get the needed K’s.  I notice that he is just at 84% usage right now, which positions him well for a late surge when compared to Tiant’s 100% and Gibson’s 97%.  I shall make a mental note to have the Saints ride him a little harder in the weeks ahead.

I enjoy writing about the season, but it’s time to get back to the games!

© John Kisner 2019