Kerry Wood has an interesting story.
He was a first round pick, number 4 overall, in 1995, by the Cubs. He moved up the minor league system pretty quickly. Made it to the majors in 1998 and had a very good season, 13-6 with a 3.40 ERA. He had 233 strikeouts in 166.2 innings. He won the Rookie of the Year.
In his 5th major league start, he struck out 20 batters, allowing just 1 hit (an infield hit) and 1 hit batter. On the bad side, he threw 122 pitches. He would throw over 120 pitches 8 times. In his second last start of the season, he threw 133 pitches. And soon he was complaining of a sore elbow. He missed the last month of the season, then pitched one game in the playoffs.
He had Tommy John surgery in spring of 1999, missing the season. He rejoined the Cubs rotation in May of 2000, going 8-7 with a 4.80 ERA in 23 starts. He had a little more trouble with the strike zone, walking 87 in 137 innings. His second last start of the season, he went 1.1 innings, walking 8.
He was back to being Kerry Wood from 2001-2003, making 93 starts, posting ERA’s in the low to mid 3s and getting well more than a strikeout an inning. And his manager, Dusty Baker, rode him hard. In 2003, he had 13 starts of 120 or more pitches, including a 141 pitch game.
For the next few seasons he would be on and off the DL.
In 2008, the Cubs turned him into their closer. He would pick up 34 saves.
The Cubs let him go to free agency, after the 2008 season and he was signed by Cleveland, but he couldn’t stay healthy, and couldn’t stay effective.
He’d play 1 season and half with Cleveland, got traded to the Yankees and then signed as a free agent with the Cubs before the 2011 season. One good and one bad season later, he retired.
Career, he was 86-75, with a 3.67 ERA in 446 games, 178 starts. He had 63 saves. In 1380 innings, he allowed 1083 hits, 148 home runs, 666 walks and 1582 strikeouts.
He (and Mark Prior) deserve to be in the Hall of How Not to Treat Your Star Pitchers. Teams became a lot more careful with the star prospects after their example.
Similar Players: Teddy Higuera, Ewell Blackwell, Fred Hutchinson, Mike Marshall, Don Gullett, Rick Aguilera, Hank Aguirre.
Would you vote Kerry Wood into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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