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Top 60 All-Time Greatest Jays: #39 Todd Stottlemyre

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Todd Stottlemyre

Todd Vernon Stottlemyre | SP | 1988-1994

For me, the lasting image of Todd Stottlemyre is him sliding or attempting to slide into 3rd base during game 4 of the 1993 World Series in Philadelphia. Being an American League pitcher, he didn’t have much experience running the bases. He hesitated between 2nd and 3rd and made a very awkward slide towards 3rd, scraping his chin on the ground and getting himself tagged out.

During the series, Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell said that he would like to bat against Stottlemyre, figuring he could get a hit off Todd. One of those idiot things people say who have never seen a major-league fastball. Todd suggested he would run a couple of fastballs up and in on the mayor, then strike him out on the outside corner. He got the last laugh at the Jays’ victory rally, saying the mayor could ‘kiss my ass.’

Stottlemyre was born May 20th, 1965, in Yakima, Washington. The Blue Jays drafted Todd in the first round (3rd pick) of the 1985 Amateur Draft, June Secondary phase, out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the son of former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, a 5-time All-Star and brother of Mel, Jr, who pitched in 13 games with the Royals in 1990. So he had the bloodline and the raw talent to be a good prospect. His father’s book Pride and Pinstripes is a good read.

A big 6’3”, 195 lb, good looking (if a little baby-faced) right-handed pitcher, he threw the usual fastball, curve, slider, and change. He didn’t become much more than a league-average starter, but since he could pitch 200 innings a season, which makes him an asset to any team. He tended to be a little emotional on the mound. And off the mound, too. There is a youtube audio of him having a bad day out there if you want to listen to him scream and swear for a few minutes.

Todd’s rookie season was 1988. He made 16 starts and 12 relief appearances and finished with a 4-8 record and a 5.69 ERA in 98 innings pitched. He walked too many (46) and gave up way too many home runs (15).

1989 he again split time between starting (18 starts) and relieving (9 games). He pitched much better, finishing 7-7 with a 3.88 ERA, and brought his home run rate down, 11 in 127.2 innings. 1989 was the first season the Jays made the playoffs, losing out to the A’s in the ALCS. Todd started game two and took the loss going 5 innings and giving up 4 runs.

In 1990 he became a full-time starter, making 33 starts with a 13-17 record, with a 4.34 ERA in 203 innings. How he ended up with a losing record with the 2nd best run support (5.81 runs/9 innings) in the league, I have no idea. His strikeout rate dropped to 5.1 per 9 innings.

In 1991 we made it to the playoffs again. This time lost out to the Twins in the ALCS 4 games to 1. Todd started game 4 and took the loss giving up 4 runs in 3.2 innings. But he helped us get to the playoffs. He had a 15 and 8 record in 34 starts with a 3.78 ERA, his best season with the Jays, good for a 3.9 bWAR. His strikeout rate was still low at 4.77/9 innings. He finished 3rd in the league in hit batters, never being afraid to pitch inside.

1992 was our first World Series win, Todd went 12-11 with a 4.50 ERA in 27 starts, but for the playoffs, he pitched out of the bullpen as we had a pretty loaded rotation that season with Jack Morris, Jimmy Key, Juan Guzman, and late-season pick-up David Cone. He had 1 appearance in our 6 game ALCS win over Oakland and 4 shutout appearances in our 6 game World Series win over Atlanta.

In our second World Champion season, 1993, Todd made 28 starts and finished with his highest ERA, 4.84, since his rookie season. Most players have a career year at 28, not our Todd. He made one bad start in the ALCS that season, taking the loss in game 4, giving up 5 runs in 6 innings. His one start in the World Series didn’t go any better, giving up 6 runs in 2 innings against the Phillies, but the Jays won the game 15-14 by scoring 6 runs in the 8th inning. Half of those runs came off my favourite closer of all-time, Mitch Williams.

Stottlemyre’s last season with the Jays was the season shortened by the lockout/strike that caused the World Series’s canceling. He started 19 games and had 7 more relief appearances that year, with a 7-7 record and a 4.22 ERA. With the Jays, his strikeout to walk rate was never great, but it improved after leaving the team.

After the 1994 season, he signed as a free agent with the A’s. He pitched there one year, then they traded him to the Cardinals. In the third season, they moved him onto Rangers at the trading deadline. After the 1998 season, he signed a 4-year, $32 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. They didn’t get much for their investment; he only made 39 starts over those 4 seasons because of arm troubles.

His 14-year career ended in 2002 with a 138-121 record and a 4.27 record. Never really a star, but he had a nice career. In his seven seasons as a Blue Jay, he was 69-70, with 4.39 ERA in 206 games, 175 starts.

Todd is married and has five children. He works now as a ‘life coach,’ and he has written two books. He made, then lost a lot of money on the stock market.

We talked to him a few years ago, when his first book came out, Relentless Success. The interview is in two parts: part one and part two. He was amiable, a very nice interview. As I mentioned, he wore his emotions on his sleeve. I asked, What advice would he give a 19-year-old Todd Stottlemyre:

Todd: Wow. Great question. Well, I tell people all the time that number one, it takes time. And success isn’t gonna happen overnight, and the focus should be every single day getting a little bit better. And you have to come to a place of resolve, where ‘quit’ is never an option. So I would probably start there, with me at 19. And I probably would’ve told myself at 19, instead of speaking or acting on all my emotions, I probably would’ve told me, Todd, pour all those emotions out on paper, in a journal, and that’ll keep you out of a lot of trouble.

In his book, he talked a lot about his relationship with his dad. His dad pitched for the Yankees in the 1960s and 70s. He had a streak of nine seasons with more than 250 innings. Unfortunately, at age 32, he had arm issues (not a surprise). The strange part was they sent him to have his arm radiated as treatment, which didn’t work. I’m not sure if a direct line exists, but his dad battled cancer for years, and it finally killed him in 2019.

I asked Todd about some advice his dad gave him:

I was frustrated because it was my second time being sent down in the second consecutive year. I remember calling my father and I was frustrated, aggravated, complaining. I remember my dad letting me pour it all out, and when I was done, and at the time he was the pitching coach for the New York Mets, and he said “You know Todd, we’d love to have you as a starting pitcher here in New York.” And then he kinda took a breath, and then he says “But not the way you’re pitching today.” And it was kind of that wake up call that I needed.

In his book, Todd also tells a story about being arrested with Dave Stewart in Dunedin for battery on a policeman. As Todd tells the story, a policeman was unhappy with Stewart, feeling he was disrespectful or something. There had been some dispute about a $3 entry fee at a bar. Stewart said he paid it but didn’t want to wear a wristband. Todd got jumped by police. Todd says he and Stewart were taken somewhere that wasn’t the police station and held. He felt the police were using the time to get their story straight. An officer claimed Stewart punched him. Stewart said, “If I close-fist hit anybody, you can believe that they would get more than just a gash.”, They were found not guilty of all charges.

Todd Stottlemyre’s rank among Jay’s career pitching leaders:

bWAR: 18th

27th ERA (>500 innings): 27, 4.39

Wins: 8th, 69

Starts: 7th, 175

Innings: 8th, 1139

Strikeouts: 11th, 662

Hit Batters: 3rd, 49