Bob Gibson was one of the most feared pitchers of all-time. Was it his menacing stare towards the plate? Was it his violent leg kick and follow through? Or was it the fact that he pitched with the mindset of “I own one half of the plate, it’s the hitter’s job to figure out which half?”
The answer is all of the above, and then some.
Bob Gibson was one of the all-time great pitchers and has the numbers to back it up. Especially in 1968, otherwise known as “The Year of the Pitcher.” After leading the Cardinals to two World Series titles in the years prior, Gibson outdid himself in the season leading up to this game.
Bob Gibson’s 1968 season was the greatest by a starting pitcher in the Live-Ball Era. The next player to toss a season as good as Gibsons 1968 was Greg Maddux in 1994. Looking at his ERA+, the stat that “adjusts a pitcher’s earned run average according to the pitcher’s ballpark and the ERA of the pitcher’s league,” Bob Gibson’s 1968 was a 258.
An ERA+ is 100 is an average MLB pitcher. Once again, Bob Gibson’s was 258.
Within that season, Gibson put up some numbers that will probably remain untouched for years, if not ever. Posting a 22-9 record, Gibson’s 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts, 28 complete games, 268 strikeouts, 1.77 FIP, 0.853 WHIP, and 5.8 hits a game, were good enough to earn him NL MVP and a unanimous Cy Young victory. It would be 46 years until another NL Pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, would earn the same hardware.
Gibson’s 1.12 ERA will never be topped. It’s impossible. It’s incredible. It’s about as perfect as one man can get. In the last 52 years, no starting pitcher would finish the season with an ERA below 1.50. The only pitchers to finish below 1.60 were Dwight Gooden in 1985 and Greg Maddux in 1994. Gibson’s 1968 was immaculate.
But there’s still one more reason that this particular outing, Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, is important. And it involves a very particular metric.
“To determine a starting pitcher‘s game score:
- Start with 50 points.
- Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
- Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
- Add one point for each strikeout.
- Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
- Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
- Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
- Subtract one point for each walk.”
Any game score that falls in the 80-100 range is considered to be a masterpiece. And Gibson found himself in the 90s in four outings. But this game right here, on the biggest stage in baseball, Gibson throws his best 9-inning game of the season. His game score after pitching a complete game shutout, with 17 strikeouts? An immaculate 93.
If you needed to watch any game from this season to see just how dominant Gibson was, it’s this. In the World Series, after the greatest season to date, Bob Gibson took the mound and gave us more perfection.
And now at the age of 84, Bob Gibson has walked through the outfield wall of corn stalks, into the great beyond. Thank you for the memories, Bob. You’ll always be the greatest pitcher of all-time.