Friday, March 30, 2012

1977 Topps Baseball #144 - Bruce Sutter

  • Bruce Sutter was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1971. He pitched in the minors from 1971-1976 and started four games over that time span. Bruce was exclusively a reliever in his major league career (1976-1988).
  • Bruce was one of the first pitchers to have great success with the split fingered fastball. The  historical importance of Bruce and the split fingered fastball could be a big reason why he's in the Hall of Fame.
  • Sutter was called up in May of 1976 and had a good rookie season. Bruce had a 6-3 record had a 2.70 ERA, and saved ten games in 52 appearances.
  • Bruce had one of his best years in 1977. He was on the first of five straight (six total) NL All Star teams, finished sixth in NL Cy Young Award balloting, and seventh in NL MVP balloting.
  • Sutter dropped off just a bit in 1978. It was the only year until 1983 in which he would have an ERA above 3.00. Bruce went 8-10, had a 3.19 ERA, and saved 31 games in 1978. Sutter was the winning pitcher in the All Star Game.
  • Bruce won the  NL Cy Young Award in 1979. He led the league with 37 saves. Bruce would lead the NL in saves every year but one from 1979-1984. Sutter was 6-6 with a 2.22 ERA in 1979. He also earned the victory in the All Star Game for the second straight year.
  • After the 1979 season Sutter took the Cubs to arbitration and won his case. The Cubs offered $350,000 and Sutter asked for $700,000. APBA Baseball Game ad with Sutter in Baseball Digest (June 1980)
  • Sutter was 5-8 with 28 saves and a 2.64 ERA in 1980. Bruce got the save in the All Star Game.
  • After the 1980 season Sutter was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Leon Durham, Ken Reitz, and Ty Waller.
  • In 1981 Bruce was 3-5 with 25 saves and had a 2.62 ERA. He got the save again in the All Star Game.
  • Sutter didn't appear in the All Star Game in 1982 but still had a good year. During the regular season he was 9-8 with a 2.70 ERA and saved 36 games. Bruce finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting and fifth in MVP voting. Sutter got a win and a save in the Cardinals' sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. In the World Series Bruce was 1-0 with two saves as he helped the Cardinals win the Series.
  • Sutter had his first rough year in 1983. Bruce was 9-10 with an ERA of 4.23. He saved 21 games, which was the first time he didn't lead the league in saves since 1978. Bruce Sutter: Baseball's No. 1 Relief Pitcher - Feb 1983 Baseball Digest
  • In 1984 Bruce had his last good season. He had a minuscule 1.54 ERA and was 5-7 with a league-leading 45 saves. Sutter finished third in NL Cy Young Award balloting and sixth in MVP voting. Cardinals' Bruce Sutter: He's Back in Control - August 1984 Baseball Digest
  • After the 1984 season Bruce became a free agent and signed a six-year, $10 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
  • The 1985 season was Sutter's last full season. He went 7-7, got 23 saves, and had a 4.48 ERA in 58 appearances.  The Ultimate Relievers: Sutter and Quisenberry - July 1985 Baseball Digest
  • Sutter's 1986 season was curtailed by an injury. He appeared in 16 games (2-0, 3 saves, 4.34 ERA) before being lost for the rest of the season on May 27. He had surgery on his rotator cuff in mid August.
  • Bruce spent the entire 1987 season on the disabled list. He had a third surgery on his pitching shoulder in February.
  • Sutter tried to come back in 1988. He appeared in 38 games and was 1-4 with 14 saves and had a 4.76 ERA. Sutter pitched a scoreless 11th inning and earned the save in his final game on September 9. He had another surgery in late September  and wanted to come back. He and the Braves announecd that he would rest for a while in 1989, but ultimately Sutter  wasn't able to return after the surgery.  
  • He had a 68-71 record with 300 saves and a 2.84 ERA for his career.
  • Sutter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. Here is his Hall of Fame page.
  • 1977 Stats: 7-3, 1.34 ERA, 31 saves in 62 games
  • 1977 Highlights:
    • July 9 - Named to the NL All Star team for the first time.
    • July-August - Missed almost a whole  month with sore back muscles. The injury wiped out any chance the Cubs had to hold on to their division lead.
    • Sept 22 - Saved his second straight game against the Philadelphia Phillies by pitching two scoreless innings. It was Sutter's 30th save of the season. At this point in his career, Bruce hadn't allowed a single run to the Phillies in 19 innings pitched.
  • Other card blogs: 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988
Sutter's Hall of Fame Biography video:

Sutter strikes out Gorman Thomas (over and over) to clinch the 1982 World Series

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