Chicago Cubs' Top 10 of the Past Century: No. 9, Fergie Jenkins' 1971 Cy Young
Fergie Jenkins pieced together one of the finest pitching seasons by a Chicago Cub to date in 1971, earning him his first career Cy Young Award.
Jenkins rolled off 24 wins that season, his career high as a Cub, in what was his fifth straight season winning 20 or more games.
He started 39 games in 1971 and completed a career high 30 with 325 innings pitched.
To add to an already amazing stat line for the season, Jenkins walked just 37 batters, as opposed to 263 strikeouts. The only other year Jenkins had less walks was in 1977 with Boston, but he pitched only 28 games that season.
Fergie's three shutouts that season helped him compile a 2.77 ERA and a 1.049 WHIP.
During the 1971 season, Jenkins led the National League in wins, games started, complete games, innings pitched, and was second in strikeouts to Tom Seaver.
After finishing second in 1967, and third in 1970, in the Cy Young voting, Jenkins finally won his first Cy Young in 1971. He was also named The Sporting News' NL Pitcher of the Year and was seventh in MVP voting.
Jenkins beat out Seaver with 17 first place votes.
Since the 1971 season, only Rick Sutcliffe has been able to produce a season that was arguably better than Fergie's. Sutcliffe went 16-1 with a sub-three ERA in the 1984 season in just 20 starts.
Greg Maddux won 20 games during his 1992 Cy Young campaign and compiled a 2.18 ERA, but like Sutcliffe, failed to match the complete dominance by Jenkins in '71.
When comparing Jenkins' season to modern-day pitchers, it's easy to say the Fergie would be able walk away with a Cy Young in 2008. No longer do pitchers throw 30 complete games (10 is almost a stretch) or pitch over 300 innings.
In the past few years alone, 20-game winners have been hard to find, thanks to a new emphasis on hitting. A 20-game winner would also be hard to find now on a team like the Cubs in 1971, who finished third in their division.
Pitching has a taken a backseat to hitting now. But even in 1971, when it was not rare to see pitchers put up great numbers, Ferguson Jenkins put up outstanding numbers.
Although it can be argued that better pitching seasons have occurred in a Cubs uniform, it is without doubt that Jenkins pitched one of, if not the, best season ever by a Cubs pitcher.
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