This may surprise some of you, as I didn’t even list Brecheen in my starting rotation the other day. However, upon reexamination of Brecheen’s impressive career. There is no way I can include him in the top five of this list, Brecheen had a career ERA of 2.91 in his 11 years with the Cardinals and kept hitters to an impressive .259 BABIP during his career.
While his numbers may slightly be affected due to his abnormally low BABIP numbers, you cannot discount what he accomplished in his career. He may not have the awards of a Dizzy Dean or Bob Gibson, but Brecheen was consistently good throughout his career.
From 1943-1948, Brecheen finished five out of the six seasons with an ERA under 3.00, including his best season as a Cardinal in 1948, when he went 20-7 with an ERA of 2.24 (2.37 FIP). That season, Brecheen struck out a career high 149 hitters and finished the season with an impressive 7.9 fWAR and ERA+ of 182. Brecheen was without a doubt one of the best pitchers that year as he led the league in four of those categories and finished fifth in the NL MVP voting that year.
Like many other Cardinals’ pitchers before and after him, the lefthanded hurler knew how to pitch when it mattered most. Not having a NLCS or NLDS to pitch in like pitchers today do, Brecheen had an impressive postseason career in his three World Series trips as a Cardinal. Brecheen finished his career with a sparkling 0.45 ERA in seven appearances (four starts), including pitching complete games in three out of his four starts with a complete game shutout and one run complete game performance in the 1946 World Series win over the Red Sox. In the three series combined Brecheen only allowed three runs (one run in each series).
Brecheen was clearly one of the best pitchers to ever put on the Cardinal’s uniform, but as I mentioned before is somehow forgotten about as a great Cardinal.
Next: Chris Carpenter