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Thread: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

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    Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    I just started a blog. Once I get a few more posts, I'll link it in my signature. In the meantime, I figured I'd post the content here since some good discussion might come from it. Might.

    The past 20 years have been an abysmal era for the Reds. There were some exciting times in the '90s, but until the Reds won the NL Central this past season, the 2000s had been downright depressing. It's a period of time in which we've seen players like Jimmy Haynes, Paul Wilson, and Joey Hamilton all make Opening Day starts. And yes, I capitalize 'Opening Day'. It's the biggest holiday in Cincinnati as far as I'm concerned.

    Keeping that sad fact in mind, you may be surprised to hear that there have been some very good seasons turned in by Reds pitchers. Before I start the countdown, I want to explain the lack of relievers. This is due to the fact that a starting pitcher throws significantly more innings throughout a season, making a starter more valuable than a reliever. But in case you were wondering, Jeff Shaw wasn't far from making the list a few times thanks to a couple excellent years in 1996-7. Anyway, on with the show . . .

    10. 2005 Aaron Harang
    Harang was coming off a mediocre season, and the speculation was that he wouldn't last much longer in MLB. When the Reds traded for him, he was expected to be a back-of-the-rotation starter at best, but fate would have it that he become the team's ace and turn in the Reds' best season from a pitcher since Pete Harnisch, who checks in at #9.

    9. 1998 Pete Harnisch
    1998 was a lackluster year for the Reds. As indicated by their record, the team was merely average, but one player who was certainly above average was Harnisch. Many thought his career was finished when he joined the club, but he rebounded from a disastrous 1997 to become one of the top-10 pitchers in the league.

    8. 1991 Jose Rijo
    Rijo was coming off a World Series MVP award, so the bar had been raised pretty high for him. He responded by leading the league in W/L% and WHIP, establishing himself as one of the most dominant pitchers of the '90s.

    7. 2006 Aaron Harang
    Many people saw 2005 as a fluke for Harang, but 2006 proved the doubters wrong. He led the league in many stats including wins, games started, complete games, strike outs, and batters faced. Despite that, he didn't receive a single vote for the Cy Young Award. It's not often you see a guy lead his league in wins and strike outs without getting a single vote for the prestigious award.

    6. 2008 Edinson Volquez
    Wayne Krivsky made a bold move by trading Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez. Hamilton was one of the most exciting young players in all of baseball, and Volquez was still a huge question mark. Josh Hamilton eventually became MVP of the American League, but it wouldn't be accurate to say Volquez hasn't been impressive when healthy. The fireballer displayed a wicked change-up that helped him earn an All-Star bid in his first year in the National League.

    5. 1992 Greg Swindell
    It's easy to forget about Swindell. He was around only one year before leaving to earn big bucks as a free agent. But without his stellar performance, you could argue that the Reds wouldn't have been in the post-season hunt that year.

    4. 1992 Jose Rijo
    Seeing as how two players from the same season made this list, you'd think that team would've made it to the playoffs. Unfortunately, it didn't happen as a result of the back of the rotation being so weak. But you can't blame not making the post-season on Rijo because he was once again one of the league leaders in every major pitching category.

    3. 2007 Aaron Harang
    You make look at Harang's 3.73 ERA from that season and come away unimpressed, but there are a couple things to keep in mind: a) half his games were in the very hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark, and b) hitters were putting up more impressive numbers at the time, presumably due to a lack of testing for PEDs. That said, despite having less appearances on the leader boards as he did in 2006, he managed to earn 4th place in the Cy Young Award voting. The starter was solid game-in and game-out while suffering only 6 losses to 16 wins.

    2. 2006 Bronson Arroyo
    Bronson Arroyo came over in return for one of this blog's favorite players, Wily Mo Pena. (To give you an idea of how much I love Pena, I was once in a band known as 'Wily Mo & the Penas'.) Needless to say, there was disappointment upon his arrival, but all that went out the window when Arroyo outperformed all expectations. The fly ball pitcher led the league in games started and innings pitched, which helped him garner an All-Star bid and a vote for NL MVP.

    1. 1993 Jose Rijo
    1993 was one of the most disappointing seasons in Reds history. The team was decimated with injuries, and all the starting pitchers except one were under-performing. The exception was Jose Rijo, who led the NL in strike outs for the only time in his career. He also led the league in games started, which may have been one of the causes for his multiple Tommy John surgeries. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn't have been counted on to do so much, but sadly, he was forced into a very rigorous role as a result of being one of the Reds' only effective pitchers.

    As far as I'm concerned, in the history of the Cincinnati Reds, only one pitcher's season has been better than Jose Rijo's 1993, and that was Dolf Luque's 1923 performance. That's a 70-year gap, but if you look at the young player's currently in the Reds' rotation, I doubt we'll need to wait another 70 years before we see such a standout performance from a Reds pitcher.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Pete Schourek, 1995, beats many of those years above, IMO.

    Buit there are so many dominant years from relievers, there should be a least a few on this list.

    But it's hard to compare them, so make two lists.
    Last edited by PuffyPig; 02-01-2011 at 02:53 PM.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Wow Rijo's 1993 season only came in 5th for the Cy Young. I thought there must've been some great performances that year, not really though. Only Maddux could rival Rijo that year, but Rijo even had 30 more K's. Rijo was done in by a 14-9 record and the 4 above him were all 20 game winners with higher ERA's (except Maddux's 2.36). Boooo. Rijo's bWAR was 8.6, blowing away Maddux's 6.2!

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/aw...93.shtml#NLcya
    Last edited by mdccclxix; 02-01-2011 at 03:03 PM.
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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by mdccclxix View Post
    Wow Rijo's 1993 season only came in 5th for the Cy Young. I thought there must've been some great performances that year, not really though. Only Maddux could rival Rijo that year, but Rijo even had 30 more K's. Rijo was done in by a 14-9 record and the 4 above him were all 20 game winners with higher ERA's (except Maddux's 2.36). Boooo. Rijo's bWAR was 8.6, blowing away Maddux's 6.2!

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/aw...93.shtml#NLcya
    Yeah, at the time, it was all over local radio about how Rijo was under-appreciated and would be all over the national media if he had been playing in a bigger market.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    Pete Schourek, 1995, beats many of those years above, IMO.

    Buit there are so many dominant years from relievers, there should be a least a few on this list.

    But it's hard to compare them, so make two lists.
    Schourek got heavy consideration, but among other things, I didn't like that he played only 29 games. If the strike didn't happen, he probably would've made the list as long as he continued to produce like he did the rest of the season.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    No 2010 Arroyo?

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    No 2010 Arroyo?
    No, and he wasn't all that close to making it either. Not that his season wasn't impressive, but he had a lot of luck on his side. If you had put him with the Brewers' defense, he would've been fortunate to look like an average pitcher this year.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    FCB's first born sez you forgot about Jimmy Haynes the 15 game winner in 2002.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    Yeah, at the time, it was all over local radio about how Rijo was under-appreciated and would be all over the national media if he had been playing in a bigger market.
    I'm feeling near indignant about this right now. We must demand reparations!
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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    Buit there are so many dominant years from relievers, there should be a least a few on this list.

    But it's hard to compare them, so make two lists.
    Here's a reliever's list (that I didn't spend nearly as much time researching):
    10. 2007 Dave Weathers
    This is certainly the least sexy pick. In 2007, Weathers led the NL in games finished. Considering the team's limited winning opportunities, he also managed to convert 33 saves. There was never anything overwhelming about Weathers' stuff, but in 2007, he was the go-to guy who got the team out of many jams.

    9. 1991 Norm Charlton
    Norm Charlton spent part of 1991 as a starter, but his results as a reliever are what stood out. In 42.2 IP, he had a 0.84 ERA and held opponents to a .510 OPS.

    8. 2002 Danny Graves
    Danny Graves started a few games in 2002 to prepare for his transition to starting. But as a reliever, it's worth noting that he 32 saves and provided 98.2 IP of quality pitching. Ironically, the Baby-Faced Assassin won the Lou Gehrig Award that year.

    7. 1994 Jeff Brantley
    The Cowboy had a couple good years with the Reds, and it all started in 1994 as he was a reclamation project after he fell out of favor in San Francisco. He made the most of his opportunity, giving up only 46 hits in 65.1 IP and being groomed to become the team's closer.

    6. 1998 Jeff Shaw
    Jeff Shaw was undoubtedly the Reds' best reliever of the '90s. He was widely considered to be a bust when he came into spring training as a non-roster invitee, but he impressed right away and became one of the best relievers in MLB over the next 7 years.

    5. 1999 Scott Williamson
    1999 was the year Williamson won Rookie of the Year honors and rightfully so. He had brief success at other points in his career, but nothing topped what he did as a rookie. At one time, he was one of the most exciting players in the organization.

    4. 1996 Jeff Brantley
    Brantley led the NL in saves with 44, and for the 3rd consecutive year, he allowed less than 7 hits per 9 IP. Injuries shortened his season in '98 before he was traded to the Cardinals for Dmitri Young.

    3. 2000 Danny Graves
    How often do you see a reliever with 30+ saves and 10+ wins? Graves is one of 5 players to do it in the past 20 years. He was also the king of coming into games to induce ground-ball double plays.

    2. 1996 Jeff Shaw
    Even though Jeff Brantley was the closer that year, Jeff Shaw's job as a setup guy was more impressive in this writer's opinion. He pitched 104.2 innings out of the bullpen and kept the Reds in countless games. Without him, there's no doubt that Brantley wouldn't have led the league in saves.

    1. 1997 Jeff Shaw
    I've already gone over Shaw's impressive job as a setup reliever, but he was at his best in 1997 as a closer. Brantley battled injury, and Shaw stepped in without missing a beat. His 42 saves led the league, and his sub-1.000 WHIP said one thing about his pitching: dominant.

    Noticeably, there is no Scott Sullivan or Francisco Cordero. Sullivan came close, and although he was solid, he was just never quite dominant enough. Cordero, on the other hand, may get a lot of saves, but he has never been particularly good while doing so.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by 15fan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer
    I'd wager my firstborn that Jimmy Haynes does not reach 14 wins.
    Quote Originally Posted by JaxRed
    His kid is rooting for 14 wins.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    I almost included the 1994 Chuck McElroy, but it's hard to compare 57 innings of excellence versus ~100 innings of near-similar results.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    I almost included the 1994 Chuck McElroy, but it's hard to compare 57 innings of excellence versus ~100 innings of near-similar results.
    I'm getting old. When I read the list, I was wondering where Tom Browning was, then I relized he pitched in the 80's (Ouch!). That got me thinking about some of the 80's preformances and made a list of the best (in order by year);

    1990 Tom Browning 15-9 3.80
    1990 Jose Rijo 14-9 2.70
    1990 Jack Armstroung` 12-9 3.42
    1989 Tom Browning 15-12 3.39
    1988 Danny Jackson 23-8 2.73
    1988 Tom Browning 18-5 3.41
    1988 Jose Rijo 13-8 2.39 (19 Starts/30 Relief)
    1986 Bill Gullickson 15-8 3.38
    1985 Tom Browning 20-9 3.55
    1984 Mario Soto 18-7 2.82
    1983 Mario Soto 17-13 2.70
    1983 Joe Price 10-3 2.88
    1982 Mario Soto 14-13 2.79
    1981 Mario Soto 12-9 3.29
    1981 Tom Seaver 14-2 2.54

    One thing that surprised me most from my cursory glance at the decade though was the number of marginal starters like Frank Pastore, Bruce Berenyi, etc. that posted sub-4.00 ERAs. I knew that pitching had been diluted since the late-sixties/early 70's, but I got the impression that the stat inflation was more recent and steeper than I thought.
    Last edited by corkedbat; 02-01-2011 at 04:32 PM.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    Here's a reliever's list (that I didn't spend nearly as much time researching):
    10. 2007 Dave Weathers
    This is certainly the least sexy pick. In 2007, Weathers led the NL in games finished. Considering the team's limited winning opportunities, he also managed to convert 33 saves. There was never anything overwhelming about Weathers' stuff, but in 2007, he was the go-to guy who got the team out of many jams.

    9. 1991 Norm Charlton
    Norm Charlton spent part of 1991 as a starter, but his results as a reliever are what stood out. In 42.2 IP, he had a 0.84 ERA and held opponents to a .510 OPS.

    8. 2002 Danny Graves
    Danny Graves started a few games in 2002 to prepare for his transition to starting. But as a reliever, it's worth noting that he 32 saves and provided 98.2 IP of quality pitching. Ironically, the Baby-Faced Assassin won the Lou Gehrig Award that year.

    7. 1994 Jeff Brantley
    The Cowboy had a couple good years with the Reds, and it all started in 1994 as he was a reclamation project after he fell out of favor in San Francisco. He made the most of his opportunity, giving up only 46 hits in 65.1 IP and being groomed to become the team's closer.

    6. 1998 Jeff Shaw
    Jeff Shaw was undoubtedly the Reds' best reliever of the '90s. He was widely considered to be a bust when he came into spring training as a non-roster invitee, but he impressed right away and became one of the best relievers in MLB over the next 7 years.

    5. 1999 Scott Williamson
    1999 was the year Williamson won Rookie of the Year honors and rightfully so. He had brief success at other points in his career, but nothing topped what he did as a rookie. At one time, he was one of the most exciting players in the organization.

    4. 1996 Jeff Brantley
    Brantley led the NL in saves with 44, and for the 3rd consecutive year, he allowed less than 7 hits per 9 IP. Injuries shortened his season in '98 before he was traded to the Cardinals for Dmitri Young.

    3. 2000 Danny Graves
    How often do you see a reliever with 30+ saves and 10+ wins? Graves is one of 5 players to do it in the past 20 years. He was also the king of coming into games to induce ground-ball double plays.

    2. 1996 Jeff Shaw
    Even though Jeff Brantley was the closer that year, Jeff Shaw's job as a setup guy was more impressive in this writer's opinion. He pitched 104.2 innings out of the bullpen and kept the Reds in countless games. Without him, there's no doubt that Brantley wouldn't have led the league in saves.

    1. 1997 Jeff Shaw
    I've already gone over Shaw's impressive job as a setup reliever, but he was at his best in 1997 as a closer. Brantley battled injury, and Shaw stepped in without missing a beat. His 42 saves led the league, and his sub-1.000 WHIP said one thing about his pitching: dominant.

    Noticeably, there is no Scott Sullivan or Francisco Cordero. Sullivan came close, and although he was solid, he was just never quite dominant enough. Cordero, on the other hand, may get a lot of saves, but he has never been particularly good while doing so.
    I was always a big fan of Scott Sullivan and at one time thought he was under appreciated by many in Reds Country.

    I still believe a guy like Sullivan could be very valuable to any bullpen.

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    Re: Top Ten Best Seasons from Reds Pitchers in the Past 20 Years

    No Rob Dibble? Granted, his best season is outside the 20 year requirement, but he was still filthy in '91 and '92. For my money, those two seasons top anything from the relievers listed above.
    How do we know he's not Mel Torme?


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