All-Time Indians: Sam McDowell

Name: Samuel Edward McDowell Position: Starting Pitcher              
Nick Name: Sudden Sam   Number: 48                
Tribe Time: 1961-1971     DOB: 09/21/1942              
Accolades: 6 Time All-Star (1965-1966,1968-1971), Top 5 Cy Young (1970), Top 20 MVP (1965,1970)      
Stats W L W% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1965) 17 11 0.607 2.18 42 35 14 3 4 273.0 178 80 66 9 132 325 1.14 10.7 0.179
Career 122 109 0.528 3.00 336 295 97 22 11 2,109.2 1,603 805 702 138 1,072 1,235 1.27 5.3 0.202

If it wasn't for a certain Feller named Robert, Sam McDowell would be the greatest power pitcher in Indians history. His strikeouts per nine innings are higher than any pitcher with more than 1,000 innings pitched (only behind Herb Score and Paul Shuey when considering pitchers with more than 300 IP) and his control stats were actually better than almost every pitcher as well. He ranks tenth all time in innings pitched as an Indian and is third among those players in WHIP, following only Addie Joss and Stan Coveleski, both whom played in the dead ball era. His career strike out total ranks only behind Feller and is almost 900 higher than the next best pitcher. Not only is he one of two pitchers with more than 2,000 strikeouts, but there have only been eight Indians pitchers with more than 1,000.

One of the most impressive things about Sudden Sam's career is that he shined so strongly on such an absolutely terrible team. The 1960's were an awful decade for the Indians (only two seasons above .500 during his career with the team and none with more than 86 wins), but McDowell still managed to garner votes for the Cy Young and MVP in separate seasons. In 1970 when he received votes for both awards, he lead the league in strikeouts, innings pitched and had a better ERA than both players who earned more votes than he did. Over his entire career he ranks 9th in all of baseball history in both strike outs per nine innings and hits per nine innings. 1969 is a great example of what he accomplished while surrounded by mediocrity as even the great Luis Tiant struggled with a 20 loss season, but McDowell won 18 games, more than the rest of the regular starting rotation combined. He almost repeated this the next season, winning 20 of the teams 50 wins by the rotation.

Although his stats would seem to make him a border-line Hall of Famer, he did not receive any votes in his single year of eligibility. He may have been harmed by the outstanding talent on the ballot that year (it featured eleven future Hall of Famers, including Bob Gibson, who was the only player to be inducted that year), but the voters obviously did not feel he deserved a second chance. He did make it into the Indians Hall of Fame (class of 2006), however and will get one more chance at the Hall when his name appears on the Veteran's Committee ballot. McDowell currently lives in a retirement community that he created for former baseball players called the City of Legends in Florida.

Sam McDowell

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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