Maybe it’s not real history, some sort of epic event or development or accomplishment. Heck, maybe it’s not even a historical footnote.
What Chris Sale could do this season might only qualify as the most trivial of baseball trivia. Yet, I find it interesting.
We’re nearing the All-Star break and the Red Sox lefty ace is 10-3 with a 2.77 ERA. He leads the American League in innings pitched (113 2/3), strikeouts (155) and WHIP (0.91).
It’s his win total that caught my eye. We’re nearly to the halfway point of the season and Sale is halfway to 20 wins. His career high is 17, which he reached twice with the White Sox.
I began wondering about Sale, a Lakeland High School alumnus, and other left-handed pitchers from Florida.
How many lefties who played high school baseball in Florida went on to win 20 games in a big-league season?
The list is short, very short.
After scouring the pages of “The Baseball Encyclopedia,” plowing deep through baseball-reference.com and Googling various names and pitching accomplishments I found only Florida four pitchers who did what Sale might do this year.
The four Florida lefty 20-game winners, in chronological order: Herb Score, Steve Carlton, Mike Hampton and Gio Gonzalez.
When I started thinking about this the first name that popped into my head was Score, who played at Lake Worth Community High in the 1950s, where he threw six no-hitters.
In 1956, Score was with the Indians and went 20-9. On May 7, 1957, a line drive off the bat of the Yankees’ Gil McDougald hit Score in the face. He never was the same again. Score compiled a 17-26 record over the rest of his brief career.
The best of the Florida lefties is Steve Carlton, a graduate of North Miami Beach High School. The Hall of Famer posted six 20-win seasons between 1971 and 1982 on the way to compiling a 329-244 record.
The next Florida lefty to win 20 in a season was Mike Hampton, a Crystal River High School alumnus. Hampton was 22-4 for the Astros in 1999.
The only other Florida lefty I could find who achieved this feat is the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez, who was 21-8 in 2012.
Are there others?
Possibly. I might have missed somebody. If so please let me know.
Did any Florida lefty win 20 before Score? I don’t know. I only went back to 1956 in my research.
Will Chris Sale win another 10 games this season and reach 20?
I don’t know. He’s on pace for that but I don’t put much stock in this on pace stuff.
In 1993, a Cubs outfielder named Tuffy Rhodes hit three homers on opening day. He was on pace to hit 486 homers that year.
We’ll see what the season’s second half brings for Sale.