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The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Milt Wilcox

Championship teams usually consist of a convergance between an improving core of young players with a handful of career years from a couple of your veterans. Milt Wilcox had a 16 year career in baseball, and he never won three games more then he lost in a season. Had it not been for his 17-8 campaign in 1984, he would have ended his career with a losing record. Simply put, in 1984, Milt Wilcox came out to pitch, and pitch he did.

He also saved his best for the end of the season. In game three of the ALCS against the Royals, Wilcox gave up only two hits in eight innings of shutout ball to put the Tigers into the World Series.

Equally ironic is the fact that his opponent in this debate, Jack Billingham, threw for Detroit, while Wilcox started his career in Cincinnati.

Let’s take a look at how he did in 1984:

Innings Pitched 193 2/3
Wins 17
Losses 8
ERA 4.00
ERA+ 98
WHIP 1.286
H/9 8.5
BB/9 3.09
SO/9 5.53
HR/9 0.60
Pitching Runs Above Average 37
Stuff 14

If you take a look at the differences between Jack Morris, Dan Petry, and Milt Wilcox, you won’t many. Wilcox threw around 40 innings less then both of them, but when he was in there, he was equally effective. In fact, their strikeout rates are nearly identical, with the best (Petry) just .02 SO/9 better then the worst (Wilcox).

At first glance, I thought this one was going to be a lot tighter, but it’s really no contest. Billingham threw a few more innings, but that’s about all you can say.

Scorecard 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tigers 5

You can read Blade’s analysis of Jack Billingham at Reds Cutting Edge.

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