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Don Sutton, Hall of Fame pitcher, has died

SB Nation logo SB Nation 1/19/2021 Adam J. Morris
Don Sutton wearing a hat © Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Don Sutton, Hall of Fame pitcher, 300 game winner, and longtime Los Angeles Dodgers, died in his sleep last night, according to his son. Sutton was 75.

Sutton was a righthander who signed with the Dodgers in September, 1964, as a 19 year old. He spent the 1965 season in the minor leagues, but spent all of 1966 in the majors in the Dodgers’ rotation, putting up a 2.99 ERA in 37 games (35 starts and 2 relief appearances), logging 225.2 IP. He was a steady if unspectacular member of the rotation until 1971, when he put up a 2.54 ERA in 265.1 IP with a 2.17 FIP, good for a 4.6 bWAR. He built on that in 1972, logging a 6.6 bWAR season with a 2.08 ERA and 2.24 FIP in 33 starts and 272 IP. That was the first in a string of five straight seasons where Sutton finished in the top 5 in the Cy Young Award balloting.

Gallery: Sports figures we lost in 2021 (USA TODAY SPORTS)

Sutton signed with the Houston Astros as a free agent after the 1980 season, and also spent time in the 1980s with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Oakland A’s, and the California Angels before signing with the Dodgers for the 1988 season, the final year of his career.

Sutton pitched in 23 seasons, putting up a career 324-256 records and a 3.26 ERA with a 108 ERA+. Despite being a 300 game winner, however, he didn’t get elected until his 5th year on the ballot, in 1998. While his career bWAR is 32nd all time for pitchers, he didn’t have a real high or long peak — he only had 5 seasons of 4+ bWAR in his career — and so he was seen by many as a compiler, which contributed to him having to wait longer to be inducted than one would expect with a 300 game winner.

Sutton also was a panelist on “Match Game” during the 1970s, and from the time his career ended up through last year, he did broadcasting work, primarily for the Atlanta Braves.


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