Happy birthday to 4,000-strikeout club member Steve Carlton
Four pitchers in MLB history have the distinction of K'ing 4,000 batters in their career: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Carlton.
While he spent seven years with the Cardinals and 14 1/2 with the Phillies, he joined the 4,000-punchout club during his very brief tenure with the Giants -- only six appearances in the second half of 1986. (He would make further brief stops with the White Sox, Indians and Twins before retiring after the '88 season at age 43).
Carlton was an intimidating presence on the mound and a hard thrower, but he simultaneously embodied some elements of the archetypical "crafty lefty." He is far and away MLB's all-time leader in pickoffs -- and in balks. He also holds some curious distinctions of spectacular personal efforts in subpar team performances. He set a then-record in a 1969 game against the Mets with 19 strikeouts, but still took a loss. And in 1972, he won 27 games, while the Phillies only won 59.
But it was certainly not all hard luck for the lefty -- he won two World Series rings and four Cy Young Awards and was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot. Happy 69th birthday, Steve.