Denny McLain spent seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers. He racked up 1150 strikeouts and a World Series title along the way.
McLain was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 1962 draft. He spent a year in the minors, and due to the rules at the time, was placed on waivers and selected by the Tigers off of them. He made his major league debut in September of 1963 at the age of 19. In his debut, against the White Sox, he allowed just one earned run on seven hits and hit a home run himself.
According to his SABR bio, McLain is only one of six teenagers since 1920 to hit a major league home run. 1968 was the best season of McLain’s career. He was winning games at a remarkable pace and recorded his 30th win on September 14, 1968. He was the first pitcher since Dizzy Dean in 1934 to do so. He’s also the last pitcher in major league baseball to do so. McLain would win the final game of the regular season to make his total on the season 31.
Despite being the Tigers ace all season long, he’d struggled in the World Series. Mickey Lolich would win three straight games in the Fall Classic for the Tigers en route to their ’68 World Title. With the Tigers, McLain would rack up 1150 strikeouts with a 3.13 ERA in 1593.0 innings of work.
He’s behind another Tigers World Champion on our list. In at number nine is 1945 World Series Champion Dizzy Trout.