Baltimore Orioles: How about a little love in MLB history for Jim Palmer?

When we think about great pitchers, what names would you come up with? Would you think of more modern guys like Halladay, Ohtani, Scherzer, and Kershaw? Would you dig a bit deeper in history like Carlton, Seaver, Ryan, or Gibson? You could go into the way back machine and produce Johnson, Young and Mathewson. All of these are great choices, but there is a pitcher who dominated an entire decade and yet very few people talk about him. That decade is the 1970s and that pitcher is Jim Palmer.

What made Jim Palmer so dominant for the Baltimore Orioles

Looking at his stats from 1970-1979, he so dominated the decade that I really don’t believe anyone was close. You could argue that Steve Carlton was pretty dominate in the 1970s and you might even bring up his magical ’72 season. You would have a strong case, but taking a look at the statistics pitchers were judged in those days (in this case, wins and losses), you’ll see Palmer pulls ahead. In fact, with the exception of ’74 and ’79, Palmer won 20 or more games every other year. That’s eight for those counting at home. Consistency was his game in those great Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1970s. You could count on him for almost 300 innings per year (which he did four times and almost did another two times) those 20-plus wins, and a solid under 3 ERA. Palmer won three Cy Young Awards, came in second once, third once, and had four Gold Gloves. Throw in a pair of top 10 MVP finishes and you got a truly dominant pitcher.

I am not exactly sure why Palmer gets overlooked. Maybe because he didn’t reach that magical 300-win plateau? The 80s weren’t exactly kind to him and he did have a huge drop-off, although a couple of 15+ win seasons, including a 15-5 record in his age 36 season, is something to be proud of. He missed 300 wins by 32, which if he had a couple of seasons more of consistent winning, he would have had it. He walked a lot of batters, but never surrendered a grand slam, nor back-to-back home runs.

I think that when you get into a discussion of great pitchers, Jim Palmer should absolutely be one that you name very quickly. I know I won’t overlook him anymore.