Schechter: Mike Marshall’s 1974 Cy Young mirage

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on November 3, 2017:

Twenty-five starting pitchers won the Cy Young Award before the voters found a relief pitcher they felt deserved their votes. That pitcher was Mike Marshall of the 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers, who put up Herculean numbers out of the bullpen. Nobody had approached his figures of 106 games and 208 1/3 innings pitched—and nobody pitching today will get the chance to. But did Marshall actually have an award-worthy season in 1974?

Michael Grant Marshall was originally drafted in 1960 and reached the Majors in 1967 with the Detroit Tigers. Taken by the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft, he meandered through two subsequent trades before he landed on the Montreal Expos in 1970. Three years later, he became a star.

Marshall was a legitimate case of a peon knowing more than the bosses. He earned a doctorate in the physiology of exercise and knew the intricate workings of all 31 muscles involved in throwing a baseball. “I’m a lab study,” he told interviewer Phil Pepe. “I’m a doctoral candidate doing this lab study. It’s my summer job that I’m doing this research with, that’s all I considered major-league baseball to be.” It took him years to convince a manager that he needed to work a lot, and then some, in order to pitch his best.

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Originally published: November 6, 2017. Last Updated: November 6, 2017.