No. 1: Steve Carlton’s 1972 Season
The Phillies traded All-Star pitcher Rick Wise to the Cardinals in exchange for Steve Carlton in February of 1972. The swap seemed fair at the time as it involved two of the best pitchers in the game, but the deal looks incredibly lopsided in hindsight.
Carlton was utterly dominant in 1972. He led the league with 27 wins, a 1.97 ERA, 30 complete games, and 310 strikeouts. Carlton was the paradigm of a workhorse, starting 41 games as he tossed 346.1 innings. He was the unanimous Cy Young winner as he took home his first of four.
Carlton’s season just looks even better when you view it through the lens of WAR. He racked up 11.1 fWAR in 1972; the only season better was Pedro Martinez’s 1999 season where he had 11.6 fWAR. Overall, just eight pitchers since 1900 have had ten or more wins above replacement.
Overall, Carlton ranks ninth among all pitchers in MLB history in fWAR. He is easily one of the best pitchers of all time, and he had the best season of any Phillie, and one of the best of any pitcher, across of MLB history.