Carlton was most certainly “the one that got away” for the Cardinals. Even though Carlton only had five years as a full time starter and seven total seasons with the Cardinals, before being traded to Philadelphia, he is still one of the Cardinals’ all-time greats for the seasons that he put up before the trade. Had that trade not been made, it could have made the Cardinals’ great history even greater.
In Carlton’s seven seasons he totaled a record of 77-62, with an ERA of 3.10 (3.02 FIP) and an ERA+ of 114, while accumulating a fWAR of 21.1. Unlike the previous pitchers, Carlton did not have the postseason success with the Cardinals as he lost his only start (didn’t allow an earned run) in the two World Series’ he appeared in as a Cardinal and gave up three runs in four innings as a reliever in 1968.
What makes Carlton stand out are his individual seasons, in his first three seasons as a full time starter, Carlton posted an ERA and FIP under three each season. With his best season coming in 1969, the same year MLB decided to lower the pitching mounds, as he went 17-11 with an ERA of 2.17 (2.79 FIP) and an ERA+ of 164. He was worth 4.9 fWAR that season for the Cardinals, but unfortunately things went down hill from there.
In the next two seasons, Carlton was rather pedestrian, posting ERAs of 3.90 and 3.22 and ERA+ of 97 and 118. Despite winning 20 games for the Cardinals in 1970, the Cardinals made one of the worst trades in team history sending Carlton to the Phillies, where he put up a solid career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994.
Next: Bob Forsch