- November 8, 1952
- 6' 3"
- 185 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-12-1974 with SLN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1983 CY, 1983 TSN
Denny had an excellent curve and changeup, but only an average fastball. Control was all-important for his success. He helped himself considerably with fine fielding and passable batting for a pitcher. A temperamental sort, he suffered from weak ankles throughout much of his career.
A hot and cold pitcher, he led the NL in ERA with the Cardinals in 1976 but was only 11-9 on the season. Two years later, he won 14, but when he fell off to 8 wins in 1979, St. Louis traded him to Cleveland. Late in 1982 the Indians dealt him to Philadelphia.
Denny had by far his best season in 1983 with the Phillies. His 19-6 mark gave him league highs in wins and percentage. His 2.37 ERA was his personal best. The Phillies won the pennant, and Denny received the Cy Young Award.
Denny was born in Prescott, Arizona and attended Prescott High School. He excelled at sports there, playing football and basketball as well as baseball. In the 1970 amateur draft, he was selected by the Cardinals in the 29th round. He made his professional debut that year at the age of 17. Denny pitched for the Class AAA Tulsa Oilers in 1974 and went 9-8 with a 3.75 earned run average. He made his major league debut in September.
The next season, Denny started back in Tulsa but he pitched well and soon entered the St. Louis starting rotation. In 1976, Denny had a breakout season. He led the National League in ERA at 2.52 and was the best pitcher on the club. Due to poor run support, his record was just 11-9.
Denny also pitched well in 1978, going 14-11 with a 2.96 ERA, but he fell off badly in 1979 and was traded to Cleveland. He continued his inconsistent pitching with the Indians, going 24-23 for them in three seasons. He pitched three straight shutouts late in 1981 and was rewarded with a three-year, $2 million contract after the season. Nine months later, he was traded to the Phillies.
In 1983, Denny enjoyed the best season of his career, going 19-6 with a 2.37 ERA. He topped the NL in wins and winning percentage and was second in ERA. He also led the Phillies to the NL championship. In that year's Cy Young Award voting, he received 20 of 24 first-place votes to win going away.
Denny suffered arm problems late in his career. After 1983, he spent two more years in Philadelphia before being traded once again, to Cincinnati. He went 11-10 in 1986 and then retired from baseball.
Denny was later a pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- John Denny