Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#76 Kevin Appier

About the Front: Is the palm of Kevin Appier's hand facing his elbow? I hope for his sake that it's an optical illusion. My wrist hurts just looking at this photo.

About the Back: Appier was the ninth overall pick in the 1987 draft, sandwiched between Dan Opperman (Dodgers) and Kevin Garner (Padres), neither of whom ever played in the major leagues. Evaluating baseball talent on the amateur level is a tricky proposition.

Triple Play:

1. It seems like an obsession with won-lost records kept awards voters from recognizing Appier's talents during his peak. In 1990, he posted a 2.76 ERA despite a so-so 12-8 record. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Kevin Maas. In 1992, he went 15-8 with a 2.46 ERA and received two runs of support or less in 14 of 30 starts and didn't receive a SINGLE Cy Young vote. The next year, he led the league with a 2.56 ERA, had more strikeouts (186) than hits allowed (183), and had a streak of 33 consecutive scoreless innings. He was 18-8 and finished a distant third in Cy Young balloting behind Jack McDowell (22-10, 3.37 ERA) and Randy Johnson (19-8, 3.24 ERA).

2. He was hit hard in both of his starts against the Giants in the 2002 World Series, but the Angels came back to win both games and capture the championship four games to three.

3. Appier was born in Lancaster, CA, as was Monday's featured player, Steve Buechele. They are two of the three MLB players to ever come from Lancaster (early 2000's pitcher Sean Douglass was the other).

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember the impatience and excitement I felt on the strike-delayed Opening Day of the 1995 season. It was April 26, and the O's were visiting Kansas City. Kevin Appier no-hit the Birds for 6.2 innings, but was pulled after 98 pitches due to the truncated Spring Training schedule. Leo Gomez singled off of reliever Rusty Meacham with one out in the eighth, but the Orioles lost 5-1 and I gained some grudging respect for Appier's abilities.

Bill James Said: "Probably the best starting pitcher in the American League, if Clemens isn't 100%." Appier had just won the ERA title by a comfortable margin (2.56 to 2.95) over Wilson Alvarez, a year after his 2.46 mark fell just shy of Clemens' league-leading 2.41.

On This Date in 1993: September 11. Another big debut, as the Braves' prized shortstop prospect takes the field as a ninth-inning defensive replacement for Jeff Blauser in a 13-1 Atlanta rout of the Padres. Chipper Jones doesn't even get a ball hit in his direction, but it's the first game of 2,499 in a great career.

1 comment:

  1. Will always be most underrated and under-appreciated pitcher in the 90s. Wish he got run support