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Series Wrapup

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The 1972 campaign marked the inaugural season for the Texas Rangers, who moved to Arlington from Washington, D.C. (where they played as the Washington Senators), leaving the nation’s capital without a baseball team for the first time since the turn of the century.  The 1972 baseball season also holds special historical significance in that it marked the first time players left their jobs for an extended period of time.  Dissatisfied with the existing provisions for pensions and salary arbitration, the players sat out the first week and a half of the season, resulting in a slightly abbreviated regular season schedule.  Since both leagues subsequently decided not to make up the cancelled games, teams played a somewhat uneven schedule, with some clubs participating in more contests than others.  

The uneven schedule came back to haunt the Boston Red Sox, who finished just ½ game behind the first-place Detroit Tigers in the highly-competitive American League East.  The Red Sox posted a record of 85-70 during the season, while the Tigers concluded the campaign with a mark of 86-70.  The Baltimore Orioles, who dominated the division the previous three years, finished third, five games back, while the New York Yankees came in fourth, 6 ½ games off the pace.

The Tigers’ top two starters, Mickey Lolich and Joe Coleman, carried them for much of the year.  Lolich had his second straight outstanding season, compiling a record of 22-14, with a 2.50 ERA, 250 strikeouts, 327 innings pitched, and 23 complete games.  Coleman finished second on the club with 19 victories, a 2.80 ERA, 222 strikeouts, and 280 innings pitched.  Between them, Lolich and Coleman posted almost half (41) of Detroit’s 86 victories.

The second-place Red Sox led the league with 640 runs scored.  Unfortunately, they also allowed their opposition to cross the plate 620 times.  Nevertheless, Luis Tiant had an exceptional year on the mound for Boston, winning 15 games and leading the league with a 1.91 ERA.

The fourth-place Yankees had the division’s best player, as well as its top reliever.  Sparky Lyle won nine games coming out of the Yankee bullpen, compiled a 1.92 ERA, and led the league with 35 saves.  Centerfielder Bobby Murcer batted .292, placed among the league leaders with 33 home runs, 96 runs batted in, and a .537 slugging percentage, and topped the circuit with 102 runs scored and 314 total bases.

Although the Cleveland Indians finished fifth in the division, 14 games off the pace, their pitching staff featured the league’s top hurler.  Gaylord Perry earned A.L. Cy Young honors by tying for the league lead with 24 victories, placing among the leaders with a 1.92 ERA, 342 innings pitched, and 234 strikeouts, and topping the circuit with 29 complete games.       

While the Tigers had to wait until the season’s final day to clinch the Eastern Division title, the Oakland Athletics had a much easier time in the A.L. West.  The A’s won their second straight division crown by finishing the regular season with a record of 93-62, 5 ½ games ahead of the second-place Chicago White Sox.  

Led by A.L. MVP Dick Allen, the White Sox were the American League’s most improved ball club, finishing 17 games closer to the A’s in the standings than they did one year earlier.  Allen made much of the difference, batting .308, scoring 90 runs, and leading the league with 37 home runs, 113 runs batted in, a .422 on-base percentage, and a .603 slugging average.  Chicago also received an outstanding performance from knuckleballer Wilbur Wood, who won 24 games, compiled a 2.51 ERA, threw 20 complete games, and led all A.L. hurlers with 376 innings pitched.

The A’s, though, were clearly the American League’s most well-balanced team.  In addition to finishing second in the league with 604 runs scored, they placed second in the circuit with a team ERA of 2.58.  Catfish Hunter led the Oakland staff with a record of 21-7, a 2.04 ERA, five shutouts, 191 strikeouts, and 295 innings pitched.  Ken Holtzman finished second on the club with 19 wins, four shutouts, and 265 innings pitched, and he also compiled an outstanding ERA of 2.51.  John “Blue Moon” Odom added 15 victories and posted a 2.50 ERA, while Rollie Fingers served as closer in Oakland’s deep bullpen, saving 21 games and winning 11 others.

Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, and Bert Campaneris led the A’s on offense.  Jackson hit 25 homers and drove in 75 runs.  Rudi homered 19 times, knocked in 75 runs, batted .305, finished second in the league with 94 runs scored, and led the A.L. with 181 hits.  Campaneris batted just .240, but he scored 85 runs and led the league with 52 stolen bases.

The A’s pleased the hometown fans by winning the first two games of the ALCS by scores of 3-2 (in 11 innings) and 5-0.  However, a key moment from Game Two occurred when Campaneris responded to an inside pitch from Lerrin LaGrow by throwing his bat at the Detroit hurler.  The shortstop subsequently found himself fined and suspended for the remainder of the Series.  The Tigers stormed back to take the next two contests in Detroit by scores of 3-0 and 4-3.  But Blue Moon Odom and Vida Blue sent the Detroit fans home unhappy by combining for a 2-1 Series-clinching victory in Game Five.

Oakland then faced the Cincinnati Reds in what turned out to be one of the most competitive World Series ever.  The Series went the full seven games, with six of the seven contests being decided by one run.  The two clubs posted identical .209 team batting averages and .295 slugging averages.  Cincinnati outscored Oakland 21-16, but the A’s came out on top where it mattered most, capturing the franchise’s first world championship since 1930, when the team played in Philadelphia.  Catfish Hunter starred on the mound for the A’s, winning two games and compiling a 2.81 ERA.  Meanwhile, Gene Tenace earned Series MVP honors by hitting four homers, driving in nine runs, and batting .348.

Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:

• April 1 – 13 – The first players' strike in baseball history wiped 6–8 games off the schedule of each major league team.  It was agreed that those games would be canceled (i.e., not even played to resolve pennant races).  The strike resulted in the team owners adding salary arbitration to the collective bargaining agreement, and increasing pension fund payments.

• June 18 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–3 in favor of Major League Baseball in its antitrust lawsuit with Curt Flood.

• December 10 – The American League voted unanimously to adopt the designated hitter rule on a three-year experimental basis.  In the December 1975 meeting, the AL subsequently voted to permanently adopt the DH.  The National League declined to follow suit.

• For the first time in World Series history, no pitcher on either team had a complete game.

• Boston's Carlton Fisk (22 home runs, 61 RBIs, .293 batting average) earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• Al Kaline's American League record streak of 242 consecutive errorless games in the outfield ended.

• Rod Carew led the American League with a .318 batting average, making him the first A.L. player to win the batting title without hitting a home run.

• California's Nolan Ryan led the American League with 329 strikeouts and established an all-time major league record by allowing only 5.26 hits per game.

• The Hall of Fame inducted Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, Early Wynn, Lefty Gomez, Will Harridge, Ross Youngs, Josh Gibson, and Buck Leonard.

• Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pie Traynor, Gabby Hartnett, and Zack Wheat all passed away.

• Freddy Parent, the last survivor of the first World Series, died at 96.

• Cleveland traded Graig Nettles and Gerry Moses to the Yankees for four players.

• The Angels dealt Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen to the Dodgers for Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, and three other players.

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BAL 1862 5028 519 1153 483 .201 193 29 100 78 41 1704 .407 .305 .756 113 40 65
BOS 1871 5208 640 1289 594 .191 229 34 124 66 30 1958 .313 .281 .641 111 48 56
CAL 1912 5165 454 1249 420 .185 171 26 78 57 37 1706 .297 .249 .578 125 25 66
CHA 2026 5083 566 1208 528 .184 170 28 108 100 52 1758 .315 .236 .636 113 25 68
CLE 1982 5207 472 1220 440 .165 187 18 91 49 53 1716 .276 .225 .530 112 33 83
DET 2022 5099 558 1206 531 .165 179 32 122 17 21 1815 .323 .224 .618 125 34 74
KCA 1975 5167 580 1317 547 .177 220 26 78 85 44 1823 .292 .224 .547 134 38 72
MIN 2033 5234 537 1277 506 .218 182 31 93 53 41 1800 .319 .291 .621 129 28 73
ML4 1982 5124 493 1204 461 .217 167 22 88 64 57 1679 .297 .284 .590 144 30 78
NYA 1904 5168 557 1288 526 .193 201 24 103 71 42 1846 .333 .291 .704 112 31 74
OAK 2119 5200 604 1248 565 .183 195 29 134 87 48 1903 .303 .248 .576 112 36 100
TEX 2076 5029 461 1092 424 .202 166 17 56 126 73 1460 .302 .278 .588 100 34 84

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BAL 321 80 74 1371 788 395 5493 1116 85 28.890 387 430 62 18 21 35 2
BOS 371 85 70 1381 918 512 5875 1309 101 72.510 538 620 48 18 25 32 2
CAL 347 75 80 1378 1000 620 5747 1109 90 52.870 469 533 57 17 16 49 3
CHA 402 87 67 1385 936 431 5743 1269 94 71.260 480 538 36 11 42 47 2
CLE 411 72 84 1410 846 534 5877 1232 123 55.920 465 519 47 11 24 43 4
DET 404 86 70 1389 952 465 5748 1212 101 108.760 457 514 46 11 33 41 0
KCA 396 76 78 1379 801 405 5698 1293 85 51.710 497 545 44 14 29 37 3
MIN 357 77 77 1399 838 444 5750 1188 105 35.840 444 535 37 11 34 26 5
ML4 372 65 91 1392 740 486 5857 1289 116 46.950 534 595 37 10 32 41 1
NYA 343 79 76 1373 625 419 5726 1306 87 60.780 463 527 35 14 39 47 1
OAK 391 93 62 1416 862 418 5718 1170 96 54.700 406 457 42 15 43 29 2
TEX 478 54 100 1375 868 613 5910 1258 92 59.250 540 628 11 6 34 44 4

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BAL 2280 6909 5120 1677 112 .976 16456 44 44 2.00 6
BOS 2266 6893 5095 1648 150 .972 16590 66 40 1.00 10
CAL 2293 6829 5062 1641 126 .941 16535 102 44 0 21
CHA 2448 6890 5016 1723 151 .968 16624 75 60 1.00 23
CLE 2408 7141 5238 1771 132 .977 16923 66 43 0 16
DET 2480 6886 5128 1649 109 .965 16657 87 46 0 14
KCA 2284 7078 5153 1788 137 .974 16572 86 42 0 17
MIN 2383 7172 5224 1768 180 .957 16789 69 48 0 7
ML4 2360 7118 5322 1634 162 .962 16697 65 43 1.00 10
NYA 2236 7162 5128 1891 143 .980 16479 42 34 0 10
OAK 2401 7130 5258 1722 150 .959 17013 72 38 0 13
TEX 2460 6958 5103 1661 194 .966 16498 77 56 1.00 14

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Oakland Athletics 93 62 921323 1 862
Chicago White Sox 87 67 1177318 2 936
Minnesota Twins 77 77 797901 3 838
Kansas City Royals 76 78 707656 4 801
California Angels 75 80 744190 5 1000
Texas Rangers 54 100 662974 6 868

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Detroit Tigers 86 70 1892386 1 952
Boston Red Sox 85 70 1441718 2 918
Baltimore Orioles 80 74 899950 3 788
New York Yankees 79 76 966328 4 625
Cleveland Indians 72 84 626354 5 846
Milwaukee Brewers 65 91 600440 6 740

Awards

Silver Slugger

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Tagged:
1972 World Series, Al Kaline, American League, Andy Messersmith, Bert Campaneris, Bill Singer, Blue Moon Odom, Bobby Murcer, Carlton Fisk, Catfish Hunter, Chicago White Sox, Dick Allen, Frank Robinson, Gaylord Perry, Gene Tenace, Graig Nettles, Harmon Killebrew, Jerry Moses, Joe Coleman, Joe Rudi, John Mayberry, Ken Holtzman, Ken McMullen, Lerrin LaGrow, Luis Tiant, Mickey Lolich, Nolan Ryan, Oakland Athletics, Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Rollie Fingers, Sal Bando, Sparky Lyle, Texas Rangers, Vida Blue, Wilbur Wood

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