This is the first of what will be an ongoing series that will honour Fergie Jenkins, the greatest Canadian to play in the big leagues. In each of these articles, I will highlight a little-known but outstanding fact about the Hall of Famer that was born in Chatham, Ont.
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Fergie Jenkins was dominant on the mound during his 1971 National League Cy Young Award-winning season.
That should go without saying.
But just to refresh your memory, the Chicago Cubs right-hander from Chatham, Ont., led the National League in starts (39), wins (24), complete games (30) and innings pitched (325).
(Let’s pause here to process the fact that he threw 30 complete games that season. 30!!)
The Canadian righty also recorded 263 strikeouts and walked just 37 batters, so not surprisingly he topped the NL with a 7.11 SO/W ratio.
But while you probably knew that Jenkins had some impressive pitching numbers in 1971, you may not know how good he was with the bat that year.
In the 39 games he appeared in, Jenkins had six home runs and 20 RBIs and posted a .478 slugging percentage. He also had seven doubles and a triple.
To put into perspective just how good Jenkins was at the plate that season, consider the following:
– Jenkins’ six home runs are tied for the third most in a major league season by a pitcher. The only pitcher that has hit more than him in a season since 1971 is Mike Hampton who clubbed seven in 2001.
– Jenkins’ six home runs during the 1971 campaign were more than four Cubs’ regular position players: second baseman Glenn Beckert (2 HRs in 131 games), shortstop Don Kessinger (2 HRs in 155 games), centre fielder Brock Davis (0 HRs in 155 games) and catcher Chris Cannizzaro (5 HRs in 71 games).
– Four of his home runs came in the month of September, including two in a game against the Montreal Expos at Wrigley Field on September 1. For the month of September, Jenkins batted .333 with seven RBIs and had a .952 slugging percentage in seven starts.
– Jenkins’ 20 RBIs that season were three shy of the National League record for a pitcher set by Atlanta Braves hurler Tony Cloninger in 1966.
– Jenkins’ .478 slugging percentage that season was better than every regular Cubs position player – including Hall of Famer Ron Santo (.423) – except for first baseman Joe Pepitone (.482) and outfielder Billy Williams (.505).
– For fun (and I know this is a stretch) but if Jenkins had played 162 games for the Cubs and produced offensively at the same pace as he did in his 39 games, he would’ve had 25 home runs and 83 RBIs.
When we put it all together – Jenkins’ mound dominance and his strong offensive output – this is simply one of the greatest all-around seasons by an individual player in major league history.