Top 50 All-Time Jays: #8 Pat Hentgen

Patrick George Hentgen | SP | 1991-1999, 2004

Hentgen_medium

Notable Accomplishments: Cy Young Award 1996 All-Start 1993, 1994, 1997

Pat Hentgen was born November 13, 1968 in Detroit, Michigan. He was drafted by the Jays in the 5th round of the 1986 amateur draft out of high school, the last choice of that round. He was clearly the best player to come out of that round, the only other really good major league player to come out of that round was current Yankee manager Joe Girardi. He played baseball and football in high school.

Pat had a fairly slow and but steady rise thru the Jay's farm system. He led the International League in strikeouts in 1991 and was a September call up in 1991. He got into a couple of games in relief then started the last game of the season, pitching 5 innings in a win over the Twins. In 1992 he started the season with the Jays, working out of the bullpen but was sent down to AAA a couple of times and then went on the DL in the middle of August and stayed there for the rest of the season. He got into 28 games, with 2 starts and finished 5-2 with a 5.36 ERA.

Pat's first full season in the majors was 1993 and he was terrific, finishing 19-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 32 starts. The 19 wins was 2nd in the AL. His He made the All-Star team for the first time and finished 6th in Cy Young voting. His strikeout rate was a little low at 5.1 per 9 innings and he gave up too many home runs (27). His win/loss record was helped along by great run support, 6.1/9 innings. That was our second World Series season, Pat pitched and lost game 3 in the ALCS to the White Sox but won game 3 of the World Series against the Phillies.

1994 and 1995 were strike/lockout shortened; Hentgen solidified his spot in the Jays rotation making 54 starts over the two years. He was a strong inning eater, averaging 7 innings a start. In '94 he made the All-Star team again and was 7th in the league in ERA, 5th in wins, 6th in innings pitched (174.2) and 4th in strikeouts (177). He averaged 113 pitches a start in 1995.

1996 was Pat's best season in the majors; he was 20-10, just the 2nd Jay ever to get to 20 wins, in 35 starts and a 3.22 ERA second in the league. He led the AL in complete games (10) and innings pitched (265.2). He won the Cy Young award in a very close vote over Andy Pettitte. Pettitte had one more win then Hentgen but Pat threw 44 more innings, had 10 complete games to 2 for Andy and an ERA more than half a run a game better than Pettitte. The vote really shouldn't have been as close as it was. He also set a career high in strikeouts with 177, led the league in fewest home runs allowed per 9 innings (.678) and lowest slugging average against (.355). He wasn't selected to the All-Star team as he had only an 8-6 record at the half way mark.

Hentgen had another terrific season in 1997, though he won 5 less games. He led the AL in starts (35), complete games (9), shutouts (3) and innings pitched (264). His home runs allowed jumped from 21 the year before to 31 in 1997 and his ERA jumped from 3.22 to 3.68. And he made the All-Star team. Roger Clemens won the Cy Young to keep the prize in the team.

Pat's last two seasons, in his first run, with the Jays weren't as good. The huge number of pitches he had thrown over the years started to catch up with him. He had ERAs of 5.17 in 1998 and 4.79 in 1999. In '98 he had shoulder tendinitis most of the season but didn't go on the DL until early September. In '99 he became just the 4th Jay pitcher to win 100 games.

After the 1999 season he was traded to the Cardinals with Paul Spoljaric for catcher Alberto Castillo, Matt DeWitt and Lance Painter. We didn't get much of value out of those 3. The Cardinals released Spoljaric before the start of the 2000 season. They did get 1 good season out of Hentgen, he went 15-12 for them in 2000 and they made it to the playoffs losing out in the NLCS to the Mets. After the season Pat signed as a free agent with the Orioles and had 3 injury filled seasons with them. In 2004 he signed back with the Jays as a free agent. We didn't get much for our $2.2million; he went 2-9 with a 6.95 ERA in 16 starts. After that he retired.

He had a really good career, finishing 131-112 with a 4.32 ERA over 14 seasons. 6'2" and about 210 pounds, he was a horse, pitched a ton of innings for us. He threw a cut fastball, a four-seam fastball, a ‘big' curve and changeup. Rob Neyer in his ‘Big Book of Baseball Lineups' has Hentgen listed as the 3rd best Jay starter of all-time, but that was before Halladay's career had taken off. He was good at keeping the runners close at first, not many stole against him.

He was a pitcher that I really underrated back then, he had decent control but he tended to give up a lot of home runs. It is kind of strange he had such a successful major league career as he wasn't that great in the minor leagues with a record of 41-45.

Pat is married and has 3 kids. He bought tickets to Jay's games for underprivileged children to come to games as ‘Hentgen's Heros'.

Pat Hentgen's place among Jay pitching leaders:

ERA (>500 IP) 15th 4.28
Wins 5th 107
Win/Loss % 8th .557
Games 14th 270
Innings Pitched 5th 1636
Strikeouts 5th 1028
Game Started 5th 238
Complete Games 4th 31
Home Runs Allowed 3rd 207

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