On this date in MLB history, former San Diego Padres pitcher Randy Jones took home the National League Cy Young Award.
They don’t make them like Randy Jones anymore, do they? Known for fast pace-of-play and a masterful sinker, the former San Diego Padres pitcher had a big impact on the game of baseball, one that continues to this day as the former All-Star continues to visit Padres workouts to offer his insight into the game.
A fifth-round draft choice out of Division III Chapman University in 1972, Jones wasted no time in reaching the major leagues, making his debut against the New York Mets on June 16, 1973. Making 19 starts in his debut season, Jones finished with a 7-6 record, 3.16 ERA, and 77 strikeouts.
He followed up his rookie season by setting a still-franchise record for losses in a single season with 22, going 8-22 with a 4.45 ERA overall. How did Jones respond? Two-straight 20-win seasons, including two consecutive All-Star games.
Jones went 20-12 in 1975, finishing second in Cy Young voting and 10th in MVP voting, but it didn’t compare to his 1976 season.
In his fourth year in the league, Jones started 40 games, logged 315.1 innings and finished the year with a 22-14 record, 2.74 ERA, and 1.03 WHIP. On November 2nd, 1976, he was honored with the National League Cy Young Award, beating out Jerry Koosman of the New York Mets and Don Sutton of the Los Angeles Dodgers (both of whom also received first-place votes). ‘
In an interview Jones did with Friars on Base before the 2018 season started, he discussed the exact moment things changed for him between his 22-loss 1974 season and dominant run in ’75 and ’76.
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Actually, I’ll tell you exactly when it was. I won my third game, a relief appearance against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. I’d only went 2 2/3 innings the start before. Tom Morgan took me out to the bullpen and brought me in in about the 4th inning, I pitched the rest of the game and we won.
I was just locked in that day. All the mechanics, all of the consistency that I’d been wanting were just kind of locked in and I was off to the races. I think I went 11-3 the first half of the year and all of a sudden my confidence was back and my mental approach had completely changed. All of a sudden all of that bad luck turned into good luck and it as a completely different world.
Randy Jones currently owns the San Diego Padres single-season record for wins (22), innings pitched (315.1), games started (40), complete games (25), shutouts (6), and home runs per nine innings (0.213).
In all, Jones played for eight seasons with the Padres before playing his final two years with the New York Mets. He started 285 games in his career, winning 100 of them and logging 73 complete games with 19 of them being shutouts.
The Padres finished the 1976 season with a record of 79-83. A 24-year-old Dave Winfield was the only hitter on the roster to record a double-digit home run total.