h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Arthur Rhodes

rhodesbackrhodesfrontTalk about same ole same ole…

Rhodes posted a 1.72 ERA in 2001 (the best mark out of the pen in the AL that season). In 2010, Rhodes posted a 2.53 ERA out of the pen. That’s nine years apart. Oh, and Rhodes career began in 1991 as a starter with the Baltimore orioles (he’d allow 47 hits and 23 walks in just 36 IPs in his initial season).

To date, Rhodes has a career that spans 20 years…but it sure didn’t look like he’d stick around that long. As a kid I sat in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards. I hated Arthur Rhodes and Sidney Ponson and Alan Mills (unless he was choking Daryl Strawberry) and Jose Mesa and Armando Benitez (A Buster Olney column!) and Ben McDonald. They all sucked and they were all chokers – I was an unforgiving pre-teen.

Rhodes especially let me down because I had such high hopes for him. In 1992, when he was just 22, Rhodes started 15 games for the Orioles and posted a 3.63 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He also managed to limit his walks (3.6 per nine) and increase his k/9-rate (7.3). In short, to an untrained eye, Rhodes looked like the real deal. What I know now is that Rhodes would never, as a starter, be that frugal with free passes and he’d never be the type to post a 0.6 HR/9 rate – it was simply unsustainable. So, the idea that he was a 2.03 K:BB pitcher was pure poppycock.

Sure enough, over the next two years as a starter, he saw HR/9 rate around 1.5, BB/9 rate around 5.0 and K:BB walk between 1 and 1.5 – not so good. In 1995, Rhodes would start nine games and post a 7.16 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. Toward the end of the year, the Orioles tried him as a reliever. In 10 appearances (hardly much of a sample size), he posted a 4.88 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Not great, but surely better than Rhodes the starter. What’s more interesting is that he allowed a .202/.316/.412 line to opposing hitters.

In 1996, Rhodes would start the last two games of his career and make 26 relief appearances. His era was 4.02 and his WHIP was 1.34 – not shocking, eh? Then, in 1997, he made 53 relief appearances with a 3.02 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Clearly, the Orioles found what Rhodes was made to do (i.e. become my generation’s Jesse Orosco).

There would be some bumps along the way (1999, 2000, 2004 and 2006), but some brilliance, especially as a LOOGY. For his career he has limited lefty opponents to a .216/.282/.319 line.

But, as the back of the card reflects, there wasn’t much finer than his 2001. In addition to his amazing ERA, Rhodes went 8-0. Only 13 people in the history of the game have gone 8-0 or better in a season. In addition, as of this writing, he is second all-time in holds, with 217.

While the Orioles of the mid-/late-90s never quite got there, their success corresponded with the organization figuring out how best to use some of its assets. Clearly Rhodes was a helpful piece and is someone who continues to build a semi-historic baseball career.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Simon – Speaking of gambles (for so many reasons), the reliever-turned-starter (who reminds me of Alan Mills/Arthur Rhodes), Simon posted 11 Ks over the last seven days in 13.1 innings of work. He had a 4.05 ERA but a 1.05 […]

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