Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gooden Wins 20

On Aug. 25, 1985, the New York Mets defeat the San Diego Padres 9-3, making Mets starting pitcher Dwight Gooden the youngest pitcher to ever win 20 games in a season. 

At 20 years and nine months old, the second-year Met was a full month younger than Bob Feller, who won 24 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1939. The win was also his fourteenth in a row.

Gooden finished the season with a 24-4 record, a 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games, and 268 strikeouts in 276-and-two-thirds innings -- all of which led the National League. He won the Cy Young Award that year, just one season after winning the Rookie of the Year Award, and joined Herb Score as the only pitchers to strikeout 200 batters in their first two seasons. He was already being touted as one of the greatest pitchers of all time and was a sure-fire Hall of Famer just on talent alone.

Sadly, Gooden never lived up to his expectations. The 1985 seasons was the final year he won 20 games, although he did follow that up with six solid seasons. After that, his career became a bona fide trainwreck, as he struggled to overcome addictions to both alcohol and cocaine. 

He retired with a record of 194-112, and as one of the biggest what-ifs in baseball history.