Mark Mulder Goes 21-8, Beats Every Foe
In his first full season as a big-leaguer, southpaw Mark Mulder paced the American League in wins (21) and shutouts (four) in 2001. Mulder’s 21-8 record and 3.45 ERA indicated his value to the Athletics, who rebounded from an early slump to reach the playoffs. He not only defeated every American League team that he faced, but he beat each of the four National League West clubs that he pitched against.
Roger Clemens Starts Out Year at 20-1
Roger Clemens enjoyed yet another spectacular campaign in 2001, winning his unprecedented sixth Cy Young trophy. Posting a 20-3 record after a 20-1 start, the 39-year-old righty ranked just ninth in the league in ERA but third in strikeouts (213). He also moved into third place on the all-time whiff list with 3,717.
Ichiro Suzuki Wins Bat Title, MVP
A seven-time batting champion in Japan, Ichiro Suzuki filled the void of free-agent defector Alex Rodriguez in Seattle. With blinding speed and incredible hand-eye coordination, Ichiro led the American League in batting (.350), hits (242), and steals (56). The leadoff man ignited the best offense in baseball and helped Seattle to 116 wins. He was named American League Rookie of the Year as well as league MVP.
Sammy Sosa Slams 64 More, Scores 160
While Sammy Sosa was eclipsed by Barry Bonds’s home run prowess in 2001, the Cubs superstar put on a tremendous show of his own. He drove in 160 runs, the most in the majors, and crossed the plate 146 times to lead all of baseball by a wide margin. He clubbed 64 homers, giving him a record 243 over a four-year span. Also disciplined, Sosa batted .328 with 116 walks.
Luis Gonzalez Tinkers With Stance, Hits 57 Homers
At age 34, Luis Gonzalez exploded with a 57-homer campaign in 2001. He also knocked in 142 runs for the Diamondbacks and batted .325. Always a solid outfielder with good line-drive power, Gonzalez made a minor alteration in his batting stance, turning to face the pitcher even more dramatically than he had before. The adjustment gave Gonzalez extra time to see -- and crush -- pitchers’ fastballs.
Rookie Albert Pujols Tees Off
After spending all but 14 at-bats of the 2000 campaign (his first professional season) in Class A, Albert Pujols broke camp with St. Louis in 2001 and quickly hit his way into the everyday lineup. He never left it, batting .329 with 47 doubles, 37 homers, and 130 RBI. He also played all over the diamond, starting at least 32 games each at first base and third base and in left field and right field. Pujols was named to the All-Star Game, was the runaway National League Rookie of the Year, and even finished fourth in league Most Valuable Player voting.
Curt Schilling: 22 Wins, 293 Ks
Pitcher Curt Schilling’s postseason heroics were well documented in 2001, but he was something special during the regular season as well. Durable, he paced the National League with 35 starts, 256-2/3 innings, and six complete games. More importantly, he tied for the league lead with 22 wins. His 2.98 ERA and 293 strikeouts ranked second in the circuit behind teammate Randy Johnson’s marks.
Rickey Henderson Sets Career Runs Record
San Diego’s Rickey Henderson scored his 2,246th run, breaking Ty Cobb’s 73-year-old major league record. Back on April 24, the 42-year-old Henderson eclipsed Babe Ruth’s career walk record of 2,062. He also cracked his 3,000th career hit on the season’s last day.
Check out more headlines from the 2001 baseball season on the next page.
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