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West Division

East Division

Series Wrapup

Story

After a brief players’ strike caused the 1972 baseball season to begin almost two weeks late, the Pittsburgh Pirates set about the task of capturing their third consecutive National League East title.  The Pirates experienced little difficulty separating themselves from the rest of the division, posting a regular-season record of 96-59 that left them 11 games ahead of the second-place Chicago Cubs. 

The Pirates boasted an extremely impressive lineup that finished third in the National League with 691 runs scored.  Roberto Clemente batted .312 in his final season.  Al Oliver drove in 89 runs, scored 88 others, and also batted .312.  Richie Hebner hit 19 home runs and batted .300.  Willie Stargell batted .293 and placed among the league leaders with 33 home runs and 112 runs batted in.

Although the Pirates’ offense garnered much of the attention, they had an extremely underrated pitching staff that finished second in the league with a team ERA of 2.81.  Steve Blass led the club with 19 wins, a 2.49 ERA, and 250 innings pitched.  Dock Ellis, Nelson Briles, and Bob Moose won 15, 14, and 13 games, respectively.  Meanwhile, Dave Giusti anchored the bullpen, saving 22 games, winning seven others, and compiling a 1.93 ERA.

While the Pirates clearly established themselves as the class of the N.L. East over the course of the season, they had neither the division’s top offensive performer, nor its best pitcher.  Billy Williams had an outstanding year for the second-place Cubs, finishing among the league leaders with 37 home runs and 122 runs batted in, and topping the circuit with a .333 batting average, a .606 slugging percentage, and 348 total bases.  Steve Carlton had an absolutely phenomenal season for the last-place Phillies, who finished 37 ½ games behind the Pirates.  Carlton led N.L. starters in every major statistical category, finishing the campaign with a record of 27-10, a 1.97 ERA, 310 strikeouts, 346 innings pitched, and 30 complete games, en route to winning his first Cy Young Award.  The big left-hander’s 27 victories represented an amazing 46 percent of his team's 59 wins, thereby establishing an all-time major league record. 

While Pittsburgh proved to be the Eastern Division’s dominant team, the Cincinnati Reds reigned supreme in the West.  Having acquired the services of Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, and Cesar Geronimo in a huge eight-player deal with the Houston Astros at the end of the previous season, the Reds returned to the top of the N.L. West standings after a one-year hiatus.  Cincinnati finished the year with a record of 95-59, 10 ½ games ahead of the Astros and Dodgers, who finished tied for second in the division.

The Reds rode their powerful offense to their second title in three years, placing a close second in the senior circuit to the Astros with 707 runs scored.  Tony Perez had a solid year for Cincinnati, hitting 21 home runs, driving in 90 runs, and batting .283.  Joe Morgan served as the team’s offensive catalyst, hitting 16 homers, batting .292, placing second in the league with 58 stolen bases, and topping the circuit with 122 runs scored, 115 walks, and a .419 on-base percentage.  Pete Rose batted .307 and scored 107 runs.  Johnny Bench earned his second N.L. MVP trophy by leading the league with 40 home runs and 125 runs batted in. 

Both the Reds and Pirates met their stiffest challenges to-date when they faced each other in the National League Championship Series.  The teams split the first two contests, before Pittsburgh came from behind to win Game Three.  The Reds evened the Series again by taking Game Four on a two-hitter by Ross Grimsley.  The most exciting contest of the Series ended up being Game Five, which the Pirates led 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.  Johnny Bench led off the frame by hitting an opposite- field home run off Pittsburgh closer Dave Giusti.  Tony Perez and Denis Menke followed with singles, prompting Pirates manager Bill Virdon to replace Giusti on the mound with Bob Moose, with two men out and the potential winning run on third base.  Moose subsequently uncorked arguably the most infamous pitch in NLCS history, bouncing an offering past catcher Manny Sanguillen that enabled pinch-runner George Foster to score the pennant-winning run.

The Pirates and their fans suffered anguish of a completely different nature less than three months later when Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash while on a mission to bring relief aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.  Just 38 years old at the time of his passing, Clemente ended his career with exactly 3,000 hits.

Entering the World Series as favorites against the Oakland Athletics, the Reds had a difficult time contending with Oakland’s outstanding pitching staff, which held them to a .209 team batting average over the course of the seven games.  Utility first baseman/catcher Gene Tenace also caused the Reds fits by hitting four home runs, driving in nine runs, and batting .348.  Although the Reds outscored Oakland by a combined margin of 21-16, they dropped the Series in seven games, losing four times by only one run.

Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:

• April 2 – With the sudden passing of Gil Hodges, who died of a heart attack, the New York Mets named Yogi Berra their new manager.

• May 11 – The San Francisco Giants traded Willie Mays to the New York Mets for minor league pitcher Charlie Williams and cash.

• May 14 – In front of a Mother's Day crowd of 35,000 in New York's Shea Stadium, Willie Mays made a triumphant return to New York with the Mets, hitting a game-winning home run against his old team, the Giants.

• August 1 – At Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Nate Colbert of the San Diego Padres tied Stan Musial's 18-year record by hitting five home runs in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. 

• New York’s Tom Seaver finished the year with a record of 21-12, a 2.92 ERA, 249 strikeouts, and 262 innings pitched.

• Steve Carlton won 15 straight games for the last-place Phillies at one point during the season.

• The National League won the All-Star Game 4-3 in Atlanta, in 10 innings.

• On September 2, Chicago’s Milt Pappas threw a no-hitter against the Padres.  He lost his perfect game by walking the 27th man on a 3-2 pitch.

• Chicago’s Burt Hooton no-hit Philadelphia on April 16.

• Montreal’s Bill Stoneman tossed a no-hitter against the Mets on October 2.

• New York's Jon Matlack (15-10, 2.32 ERA) earned N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• San Francisco's Jim Barr retired a major league record 41 batters in a row over two games.

• Milt Pappas became the first pitcher to collect 200 career wins without ever having won 20 games in a season.

• Montreal dealt Rusty Staub to the Mets for Ken Singleton, Tim Foli, and Mike Jorgensen.

• Bill Mazeroski retired holding the National League record for most games at second base (2,094).

• Cincinnati's Clay Carroll set a new major league record by saving 37 games.

• Tom Seaver became the highest-paid pitcher in history by signing a contract worth $172,000.

• Lou Brock led the National League with 63 stolen bases.

Seasons of the National League

1876 · 1877 · 1878 · 1879 · 1880 · 1881 · 1882 · 1883 · 1884 · 1885 · 1886 · 1887 · 1888 · 1889 · 1890 · 1891 · 1892 · 1893 · 1894 · 1895 · 1896 · 1897 · 1898 · 1899 · 1900 · 1901 · 1902 · 1903 · 1904 · 1905 · 1906 · 1907 · 1908 · 1909 · 1910 · 1911 · 1912 · 1913 · 1914 · 1915 · 1916 · 1917 · 1918 · 1919 · 1920 · 1921 · 1922 · 1923 · 1924 · 1925 · 1926 · 1927 · 1928 · 1929 · 1930 · 1931 · 1932 · 1933 · 1934 · 1935 · 1936 · 1937 · 1938 · 1939 · 1940 · 1941 · 1942 · 1943 · 1944 · 1945 · 1946 · 1947 · 1948 · 1949 · 1950 · 1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · 1961 · 1962 · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1967 · 1968 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1977 · 1978 · 1979 · 1980 · 1981 · 1982 · 1983 · 1984 · 1985 · 1986 · 1987 · 1988 · 1989 · 1990 · 1991 · 1992 · 1993 · 1994 · 1995 · 1996 · 1997 · 1998 · 1999 · 2000 · 2001 · 2002 · 2003 · 2004 · 2005 · 2006 · 2007 · 2008 · 2009 · 2010  

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
ATL 1891 5278 628 1363 593 .197 186 17 144 47 35 2015 .315 .265 .613 131 38 55
CHN 1888 5247 685 1346 634 .174 206 40 133 69 47 2031 .337 .243 .625 126 43 67
CIN 1957 5241 707 1317 650 .169 214 44 124 140 63 1991 .358 .239 .616 109 54 65
HOU 1862 5267 708 1359 660 .194 233 38 134 111 56 2070 .312 .274 .618 98 51 62
LAN 1869 5270 584 1349 543 .209 178 39 98 82 39 1899 .348 .295 .652 121 40 89
MON 2048 5156 513 1205 462 .197 156 22 91 68 66 1678 .308 .259 .586 96 30 108
NYN 1876 5135 528 1154 490 .174 175 31 105 41 41 1706 .303 .240 .575 127 39 86
PHI 2102 5248 503 1240 469 .188 200 36 98 42 50 1806 .288 .260 .564 104 36 69
PIT 1926 5490 691 1505 654 .181 251 47 110 49 30 2180 .303 .249 .610 110 50 52
SDN 1994 5213 488 1181 452 .172 168 38 102 78 46 1731 .262 .230 .512 97 25 90
SFN 1916 5245 662 1281 600 .191 211 36 150 123 45 2014 .306 .279 .632 107 39 64
SLN 1969 5326 568 1383 518 .176 214 42 70 104 48 1891 .312 .250 .639 141 36 58

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
ATL 375 70 84 1376 732 512 5967 1412 155 83.060 654 730 40 4 27 69 8
CHN 353 85 70 1398 824 421 5848 1329 112 56.180 500 567 54 18 32 32 4
CIN 393 95 59 1413 806 435 5862 1313 129 99.870 504 557 25 9 60 42 1
HOU 398 84 69 1384 971 498 5890 1340 114 73.820 580 636 38 13 31 58 4
LAN 331 85 70 1404 856 429 5795 1196 83 46.580 434 527 50 21 29 43 3
MON 373 70 86 1403 888 579 5914 1281 103 74.130 560 609 39 10 23 47 8
NYN 363 83 73 1414 1059 486 5897 1263 118 53.580 514 578 32 8 41 53 2
PHI 419 59 97 1401 927 536 5932 1318 117 63.560 571 635 43 13 15 51 8
PIT 360 96 59 1415 838 433 5845 1282 90 40.160 442 512 39 9 48 34 3
SDN 423 58 95 1404 960 618 6090 1350 121 72.770 589 665 39 15 19 63 11
SFN 374 69 86 1386 771 507 5887 1309 130 64.640 570 649 44 7 23 53 6
SLN 372 75 81 1401 912 531 5889 1290 87 119.170 533 600 64 12 13 53 5

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
ATL 2280 7101 5237 1672 192 .965 16524 96 37 0 36
CHN 2273 7122 5055 1919 148 .972 16782 95 46 1.00 12
CIN 2347 7137 5303 1708 126 .956 16955 31 39 3.00 5
HOU 2208 6915 5082 1699 134 .977 16621 99 37 0 17
LAN 2246 7180 5173 1830 177 .969 16837 79 37 2.00 12
MON 2435 7085 5104 1824 157 .975 16821 73 67 1.00 11
NYN 2265 6931 5216 1569 146 .937 16975 60 61 3.00 7
PHI 2433 7098 5208 1751 139 .956 16802 87 45 0 15
PIT 2321 7180 5256 1767 157 .948 16968 54 41 1.00 6
SDN 2312 7031 5218 1651 162 .951 16845 98 46 0 12
SFN 2234 7093 5220 1692 181 .938 16634 87 53 1.00 10
SLN 2326 7034 5154 1705 175 .966 16800 91 55 2.00 18

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Cincinnati Reds 95 59 1611459 1 806
Los Angeles Dodgers 85 70 1860858 2 856
Houston Astros 84 69 1469247 3 971
Atlanta Braves 70 84 752973 4 732
San Francisco Giants 69 86 647744 5 771
San Diego Padres 58 95 644273 6 960

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Pittsburg Pirates 96 59 1427460 1 838
Chicago Cubs 85 70 1299163 2 824
New York Mets 83 73 2134185 3 1059
St. Louis Cardinals 75 81 1196894 4 912
Montreal Expos 70 86 1142145 5 888
Philadelphia Philies 59 97 1343329 6 927

Awards

Silver Slugger

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Tagged:
1972 NLCS, 1972 World Series, Al Oliver, Bill Mazeroski, Bill Stoneman, Bill Virdon, Billy Williams, Bob Moose, Bobby Tolan, Burt Hooton, Cesar Geronimo, Charlie Williams, Cincinnati Reds, Clay Carroll, Dave Giusti, Denis Menke, Dock Ellis, Gene Tenace, Gil Hodges, Hank Aaron, Jim Barr, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, Lou Brock, Manny Sanguillen, Mike Jorgensen, Milt Pappas, Nate Colbert, Nelson Briles, Pete Rose, Pittsburgh Pirates, Richie Hebner, Roberto Clemente, Ross Grimsley, Rusty Staub, Steve Blass, Steve Carlton, Tim Foli, Tom Seaver, Tony Perez, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Yogi Berra

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