Friday, August 5, 2011

#220 - Don Sutton

Don Sutton has the old uniform on with the piping which means that this shot may be from an earlier season than '73. Whatever year it is he looks like he's in a spring training compound. Don is another guy smack in the middle of a couple good runs in '73: it was the eighth of 17 straight seasons in which Don would win double-figure games; and it was the fourth of nine straight seasons in which he would have a winning record. While his numbers were a small discount to his excellent '72 he was again an All-Star, again put less guys on base than his innings pitched, and was his last season of over 200 K's. Don looks confident in his photo here...and he should.

Don Sutton was born in Alabama and moved to Florida as a kid. As has been the recent theme he was a big deal athlete in high school. After he finished he played in a summer league and was signed by the Dodgers late in '64. Don wasted no time, winning 23 in a '65 season split between Single and Double A. That got him called all the way up in '66 where right off the bat he had a premium season, winning 12. The next couple years he put up pretty good numbers but an overall losing record for a team that wasn't so hot. In '69 he had his first big wins number but it was coupled with a big losses number as well. In '70 Don got on the right side of the won-loss record but his ERA popped as he led the NL in earned runs.
 
From '71 to '76 Sutton really hit a groove, averaging 18 wins a year with an ERA under 3.00. In '72, probably his best year, he began a streak of five All-Star games in six years and that year led the NL with his nine shutouts. '74 was his first trip to the post-season where he threw excellent ball. He peaked in victories in '76 with 21 when he also peaked in Cy Young voting, finishing third. He stayed in LA through the '80 season, averaging 14 wins per season, when he led the NL in ERA with 2.20. That December he signed with the Astros as s free agent.

After his first stint in LA Sutton was pretty itinerant. He spent the better part of two seasons in Houston before he went to the Brewers for the '82 stretch run during which time he went 4-1. He spent another two seasons in Milwaukee as a .500 pitcher as the Brewers ran out of gas. In '85 at age 40 he went to Oakland and then went to the Angels for the final month, winning 15 games in total. For California he would have his last good year for the '86 division winners, again winning 15. After another full season there and a partial one back with LA in '88 he was done. Don finished with a record of 324-256 with a 3.26 ERA, 178 complete games, 58 shutouts, and five saves. He is high on the career strikeout list with 3,574. In the post-season he was 6-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 15 games.

After playing, Sutton became a broadcaster sandwiching 20-plus years calling Braves games around a couple doing Nationals games in the mid-2000's. He was elected to the Hall in '98.

Don has a great card back. Per the first star bullet I guess that is the Sporting News honor because Topps opted for Woody Fryman and Jim Nash that year. He gets other props for his excellent '72 and '73.

This one reaches a long way.

1. Sutton and Rick Burleson '86 Angels;
2. Burleson and Doug Griffin '74 to '77 Red Sox.

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