Appearances Can Be Deceiving

No longer a “Star Rookie” or even in the rotation, Jo-Jo Reyes may find his niche in the bullpen. With 39 appearances by the age of 24 (his age for the rest of the season), he could do some damage.

About a week and a half ago, I went to a Cincinnati Reds game. Nothing really special. I’m not much of a Reds fan, but I’m always happy to watch a baseball game. The Reds were kicking butt and taking numbers before David Weathers came in and gave up a few runs. Although it was by far his worst appearance of the season (a 0.00 ERA kind of makes that easy), Weathers did bypass Cy Young for the 19th spot all-time in appearances. At first, I thought that was fairly impressive (and honestly, being able to pitch long enough to make that many appearances is fairly impressive), but then, I came to quick (and obvious) realization that Weathers’ accomplishment is nothing like Cy Young’s. Yet, because I didn’t know much about the all-time appearances list, I figured I would look and share it with all of you.

Of the 911 appearances made by Weathers, only 69 are starts. Making 70 relief appearances a year tends to propel one up the leaderboard. But of the 906 appearances Cy Young made, 815 of them were starts as he averaged around 40 or so starts a season, which just goes to show the disparities in the real accomplishments. Of course, Weathers wasn’t as good of a starter as he had a 5.53 ERA as a starter, but his 3.75 ERA as a reliever, while good, isn’t really a great ERA for a reliever. But it is plenty good enough to keep him having a job for a number of years, and to his credit, he has stayed healthy (and actually really consistent, remarkably) enough to keep going.

So the question has to be asked — who has the most appearances all-time and does Weathers have a chance of getting there? Jesse Orosco has 1252 appearances (4 starts), which makes him 341 ahead of Weathers. At 70 appearances a season, Weathers would have to pitch about 4 more years after this one and maybe a part of another. Considering he’s almost 40, he probably won’t, but Orosco did pitch until he was 46.

What about the rest of the leaderboard?
Orosco — 1252 (4 starts)
Mike Stanton — 1178 (1 start)
John Franco — 1119 (0 starts)
Dennis Eckersley — 1071 (361 starts)
Hoyt Wilhelm — 1070 (52 starts)
Dan Plesac — 1064 (14 starts)
Mike Timlin — 1058 (4 starts)
Ken Tekulve — 1050 (0 starts)
Jose Mesa — 1022 (95 starts — really?)
Lee Smith — 1022 (6 starts but a record 802 games finished)

Well, that’s the top 10. Trevor Hoffman leads all active pitchers with 940 appearances (17th). Weathers is second. No one else is particularly close that is young enough to really challenge unless you really want to count Kyle Farnsworth (33 and around 700 behind) or Dennys Reyes (32 and further behind).

But here’s my question. As relievers become more specialized, will they be able to reach Orosco’s record? As relievers have become more specialized, they make a lot of appearances per season, but in a lot of ways, they’re a dime a dozen and treated that way, not really staying anywhere for very long and not really staying healthy for that long. Also, they don’t really come up to the majors until later in their careers, curbing the amount of appearances they make. Still, most of these guys on the list (you’ll note that all were primary relievers as Cy Young is the leader in games started) started as starters as younger players, and if you were good enough to make the majors at such a young age, you probably can at least survive as a reliever, one would hope.

No, this isn’t that important of a record, but I thought you should know. Considering that it takes some talent and longevity, it is still rather impressive, even if Cy Young’s is much more so.

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One Response to “Appearances Can Be Deceiving”

  1. lar Says:

    The thing about Orosco’s record is that he was the ultimate lefty specialist. I don’t have the chance to look right now, but, if you look at his innings pitched in his final 5 or so years, you’ll notice that he hardly ever faced more than 2 or 3 batters. He knew how to pitch effectively against left-handed batters, and that’s all anyone needed from him. It’s precisely what let him stay in baseball until he was 46 and become the record-holder for most pitching appearances.

    I suspect the same kind of circumstances will come together for another lefty in the future to help him challenge Jesse’s record. It would have to be a journeyman, though, since someone as high-profile as Trevor Hoffman would never let himself hang around like that.

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