In some years, such as 1941 or 1999, hitters dominated the game of baseball. In other seasons, such as 1906 or 1968, it's the pitchers that grabbed the headlines. In 2003 there was a reasonable balance of hitting and hurling, with no jaw-dropping numbers but lots of solid performances.
There were no 30-game winners in the majors for the 35th year in a row and no 25-game winners, either. There was a record set for consecutive saves, as Eric Gagne was the King of the Hill in 55 consecutive outings. Who was the most impressive moundsman in 2003? All things considered... you'll have to decide for yourself! Here are the leaders in nine categories:
Wins - Roy Halladay put together 15 consecutive victories on his way to a 22-win season that led both leagues. The Toronto star had one more win than Esteban Loaiza, Jamie Moyer, Russ Ortiz and Andy Pettitte, who carded 21 each.
Earned Run Average - Who had the best ERA in the majors? Who else? Pedro Martinez shut 'em down with a 2.22 mark, with Jason Schmidt leading the other league at 2.34. Kevin Brown and Mark Prior also posted ERAs under 2.50.
Strikeouts - There were no Nolan Ryan/Sandy Koufax-like numbers in the "K" department this year, with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on the shelf for much of the season and the other leaders getting the hook early as managers protected their golden arms. Kerry Wood was the strikeout leader with 266 while teammate Mark Prior was second with 245 (at age 23!).
Games - Paul Quantrill proved the rumors true that he has a rubber arm as he took to the hill 89 times for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Oscar Villarreal, the 21-year-old wonder boy of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was second with 86 appearances.
Games Started - Roy Halladay started 36 times for Toronto to lead the American while Greg Maddux tied that number with 36 starts for the Atlanta Braves to pace the National.
Innings Pitched - He had the most wins and the most starts so it stands to reason that he spent the most time on the mound. Roy Halladay pitched 266 innings to lead the majors, while Bartolo Colon was a distant second with 242 frames under his belt.
Complete Games - It's a Halladay, just a Halladay. The old Bee Gees hit song was probably about a different Halladay, but here's another category where Roy was numero uno with nine complete games, tying him with Bartolo Colon and Mark Mulder. Livon Hernandez led the National League with eight start-to-finish stints.
Shutouts - At this rate it's going to take 37 years to catch Walter Johnson! The shutout leaders pitched a grand total of three each as the art of the whitewash continues to become a thing of the past. Kevin Millwood, Matt Morris and Jason Schmidt were the triumphant trio, while a dozen other pitchers tied with two shutouts each.
Saves - Yes, he blew the save in the All-Star game and took the loss, but Eric Gagne was perfect during the regular season with 55 saves in 55 chances. Not only was this a consecutive games record it was only two saves short of the all-time record for saves in a season held by Bobby Thigpen. John Smoltz might have set a record of his own except for a late-season injury. He finished second with 45 saves.