Best Pitchers of the 1990’s
Alright, I had a little trouble comprising this list, but I felt after I did the batting stances post, I should also do one for pitchers. There were some crazy windups, motions, and overall quirks from pitchers in the 1990’s, and I put together a list of ten who I think deserve mentioning. Without further ado, let’s start the countdown!
10. Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield is obviously a very unique pitcher, for he is one of a rare breed: knuckleballers. But he is included on this list because not only does he throw the baffling pitch, but he has been pretty successful doing so. More focusing on his delivery, it is not too abnormal. However, I think it is very interesting how he seems to effortlessly just lob the ball over and it is probably one of the calmest pitching motions ever. Then again, how much effort do you need to exert to deliver a 60 mile per hour pitch?
9. Rod Beck
Beck had the arm swinging thing which was cool. He was also a very successful closer for a handful of years. He had a very entertaining look, with some interesting habits, fantastic mustache, and he was taken from this Earth much too soon. Finally, for those Eastbound and Down fans… who else sees a resemblance here to Kenny Powers?
RIP Rod Beck
8. Jim Abbott
Abbott had a pretty outstanding career, considering the circumstances. He only had one arm! Well, to be fair he had two arms, but he was born without a right hand. He did not let this restrict him from his dream of playing major league baseball. Although the 87-108 is not particularly impressive, he did pitch a no-hitter in 1993, and had a respectable 4.25 ERA for his career. If you’re wondering how he pitched with one hand, well read here. Lastly, I remember reading a book on Abbott when I was really young, and I just thought it was awesome. Jim Abbott is truly an inspirational story.
7. Dennis Eckersley
Known today as a NESN personality, Eckersley was a fairly fine pitcher during his time. He only made into Cooperstown and the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Other than his skills, Eck also had some great facial hair, and he too had a very unique windup.
6. Tom Gordon
Gordon was another successful closer who makes this list. Gordon was unique for wearing his hat extremely low, with the brim seemingly covering his entire face. His windup was pretty different as well, with a fairly high leg kick and an explosive burst towards the mound every time he let go of the ball.
5. Paul Byrd
Byrd had the classic, old school windup. He began his windup, and in the middle of his delivery, swung his arms back and forth before throwing the baseball.
4. Mitch Williams
Williams might be most famous for allowing Joe Carter’s walk off, World Series winning home run in 1993, but he should be noted for a couple of other things as well. First of all, what a mullet this guy had. Other than his hairdo, his pitching delivery wasn’t too weird until the end, when he nearly falls of the side of the mound every time he pitches. Another Kenny Powers look-alike here?
3. Turk Wendell
Jumping over the baselines, chewing black licorice while pitching, brushing his teeth between innings, wearing necklaces with teeth of wild animals he hunted, and asking for a contract for$9,999,999.99. Those were some of the many strange quirks that Turk Wendell possessed. In terms of personality and superstitions, this may be the most unique pitcher of all time. Wendell is also somewhat of a local boy, hailing from Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
2. Orlando Hernandez
“El Duque” had the highest leg kick that I have ever seen by a pitcher. He had a few very solid years with the Yankees, and was especially good in the playoffs. There are two specific memories that I have of El Duque.
1. One time in the late 1990’s, my grandfather brought my mom and I to see a Red Sox game at Fenway. That same day, my sister was in New York with my dad, seeing a Yankees-Mets game. Later that day, they called me and said I missed a great game, and that on one play, “this guy named Orlando Hernandez” fielded a ground ball, couldn’t get the ball out of his glove, so he threw his glove over to first base to get the out.
2. The other memory is that one time, when my cousin and I were playing one-on-one baseball (it’s possible), I was pretending to be El Duque with the high leg kick. I ended up kneeing myself in the jaw. It kinda sucked.
1. Hideo Nomo
For a little while, it looked like Nomo might be the Japanese version of Fernando Valenzuela. In a way, he was. He burst onto the scene in L.A., with the Dodgers, and had a good, but not great career. What Nomo was best known for however, was obviously his outstanding pitching windup.
Well, there it is. The top ten unique pitchers from the 1990’s. Agree? Disagree? Who did I forget? Should number one have been number ten? Should number ten have been number one? Leave a comment!