April 18, 2021

How They Got There: The 1980-1989 NL Cy Young Winners (FanGraphs)


If you want to get an idea of how high the bar is to become a Hall of Fame pitcher, consider that only two of the 17 Cy Young winners from the 1980s have been inducted. One, Steve Carlton, is a four-time winner whose career spanned three decades. The other, Rollie Fingers, was one of the better relievers in the game throughout his 16-year career.

Those not in the Hall of Fame had a shorter span of greatness, even if only one year. Temporarily unlocking that Cy Young ability can come down to a change of scenery, a strong supporting cast, or working with a new pitching instructor. In other words, being in the right place at the right time. Here’s a look back at how the NL Cy Young winners of the 1980s were acquired.

1980 NL Cy Young

Rank Name Team Age How Acquired W L IP ERA FIP WAR
CY Steve Carlton PHI 35 Trade (STL) Feb’72 24 9 304.0 2.34 2.42 8.8
2nd Jerry Reuss LAD 31 Trade (PIT) Apr’79 18 6 229.1 2.51 2.99 4.6
3rd Jim Bibby PIT 35 Free Agent (CLE) Mar’78 19 6 238.1 3.32 3.82 2.6

At the time, St. Louis Cardinals lefty Steve Carlton and Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Rick Wise were in very similar situations. Both were All-Stars in their…

Read “How They Got There: The 1980-1989 NL Cy Young Winners” at FanGraphs