31-6, 1.96 ERA, 280 K
While I was doing the research for this Top 10 list, I discovered that Carl Yastrzemski won the 1968 AL Batting Title with an average of .301...the lowest winning batting average in title history. It didn't take me long to figure out why.
The answer is Denny McLain.
McLain demolished the American League from Opening Day.
He won 18 of his first 20 decisions, with an ERA of 1.79, and held opponents to a .189 batting average. He pitched 16 complete games during this stretch, one of them lasting 10 innings.
McLain was 16-2 at the All-Star Break, and media and fans were both excited for what looked to the first 30+ win season since Dizzy Dean won 30 games in 1934.
McLain didn't let the people down, winning his 30th on Sept. 14.
During the second half of the season, McLain went 15-4 with an ERA of 1.89 and an opposing batting average of .211.
McLain's Tigers finished with a 103-59 record, and atop the American League. The Tigers would go on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, despite McLain going 1-2 with an ERA of 3.23.
McLain was three strikeouts from the Triple Crown, behind the Indian's Sam McDowell (283).
McLain is one of eight pitchers to win the MVP and the Cy Young in the same season (Don Newcombe in '56, McLain in '68, Vida Blue in '71, Rollie Fingers in '81, Willie Hernandez in '84, Roger Clemens in '86, and Dennis Eckersley in '92).