For three years in the mid-1940s, Newhouser was the most dominant pitcher in baseball. From 1944 to 1946, he recorded consecutive seasons of 29-9, 25-9 and 26-9, with ERAs of 2.22, 1.81 and 1.94, respectively. Newhouser hurled the pennant clincher for the Tigers in 1945 and followed with two World Series victories over the Chicago Cubs.
He is the only pitcher to win two consecutive MVP awards, which he won in 1944 and 1945 (his Triple Crown year), and he finished second in 1946 to Ted Williams. But because he never had a winning season before he blossomed during the war years, he had trouble gaining respect.
But it should also be pointed out that he had great success after the war, when baseball rosters returned to their full complement. In 1947, he was still just 26 years old, and he finished once again among the league leaders in ERA and went 17-17. In 1948 and 1949, he went 21-12 and 18-11, finished 4th and 10th in the AL ERA race, and finished in the top three in strikeouts.
After that, shoulder trouble would limit his effectiveness, and after going 15-13 with a mediocre 4.34 ERA in 1950 he would never again win more than 9 games. His last hurrah came in 1954, when he was with the Cleveland Indians team that won 111 games - joined by Hall of Famers Early Wynn, Bob Lemon and Bob Feller, plus AL ERA champ Mike Garcia, he helped the cause by going 7-2 and saving 7 games. No other team in history has sported 4 future Hall of Famers on their roster.
Newhouser won just 22 of his 207 career victories after his 30th birthday.
A congenital heart ailment kept Newhouser out of the service and for a time threatened his baseball career. Newhouser signed with the Tigers for $400 while a Detroit schoolboy star. Moments later, the story goes, Cleveland Indians superscout Cy Slapnicka arrived to offer $15,000 and a new car, but the deal was done. Newhouser appeared briefly in the majors at age 18 in 1939 and returned for good in 1941. But he recorded only a 25-43 record through 1943, when he led the league in walks.
Failure frustrated Newhouser, an intense competitor, and he alienated teammates with his tantrums. But he resolved to control both his behavior and his pitching, and he won a career-high 29 games in 1944. Pinpoint control of his fastball and overhand curve became Newhouser's trademark.
He posted a career record of 207 wins and 150 losses, and his career 3.06 ERA is almost a run better than the league average.
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