There’s a definite theme to pennant races in Dugout Wizards – they are invariably tightly contested and 1967 had a pair of races that stand proudly with any of the others.
In the Senior Circuit, four teams finished the campaign with 90+ wins and three of them ended the season within a game of each other. The team standing atop the heap was the St. Louis Cardinals,whose 97 victories were one more than the total mustered by the Reds and Phillies. The Astros served notice that they might be on the verge of maturation into true contenders, posting a team-best 90-72 mark behind the league’s most devastating pitcher – Don Sutton.
Sutton posted 22 wins – equaling his age – against just 5 defeats and posted a microscopic 1.31 ERA over 34 starts with 10 shutouts and 260 whiffs in 282.2 innings pitched. Needless to say he ran away with the Cy Young Award and ended up a close second in MVP balloting. The MVP award went to another youngster – Cincinnati’s Rick Monday. Even younger than Sutton (by a few months), Monday tore up the NL to the tune of Triple Crown-winning numbers with a .328-38-99 line. He also led the loop in both on-base and slugging percentages on the heels of a 1966 campaign that saw him capture the Rookie of the Year award.
Over in the AL, the Yankees returned to the top after a two-season hiatus, holding off strong challenges from the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Yanks equaled the Cards with 97 wins, two games better than their rivals from Beantown, by posting the league’s best pitching numbers. The staff was led by Mel Stottlemyre, who won 19 games and John Buzhardt, who posted a 2.15 ERA (4th-best in the AL). With Rookie of the Year Bobby Murcer and MVP Mickey Mantle on board, the offense was good too. Murcer hit .266 with 12 HRs and 35 steals while Mantle hit .301 with 24 HRs and scored 102 runs at age 35 to show he wasn’t quite finished yet.
The Cy Young Award went – again – to Detroit ace Mickey Lolich, who claimed the hardware for the third straight season. Following seasons of 20 and 21 wins, Lolich went 25-4 and posted an ERA for the ages with a 1.22 mark, claiming the pitching Triple Crown for the second straight season as well, this time posting a league-best 287 strikeouts. At age 26, Lolich may have his best years ahead of him – a frightening thought considering how overpowering he had been over the 1965-66-67 seasons.
The Fall Classic was a good one with the Cardinals taking the flag over the Yanks in six games. Bob Gibson claimed the MVP award, winning both of his two starts and posting a miniscule 0.87 ERA, allowing just three hits in 10-and-a-third innings of work.