Kirk Rueter – 1994 Donruss Triple Play

December 11, 2010

Chicks Dig The Jug Ears! Amirite?

(It’s snowing today – heavily – 12 to 18 inches possibly with big winds. I’m staying inside. Be prepared for a lot of posts if / when I get bored.)

I thought Steven Upchurch’s ears were bad. Man, look at those on Rueter.

Kirk pitched for two teams in his career. He started in Montreal, and pitched well as a rookie before struggling before the 1994 strike. He then spent a lot of time in Ottawa in 1995 before having a good September for the Expos.

He started out OK in 1996, and then struggled. While he was in Ottawa the Expos moved Tim Scott and Rueter to the Giants for Mark Leiter. He was called up for good by San Francisco in late 1996 and from there became a mainstay of the Giants rotation until 2005.

Rueter was always an interesting pitcher. He was an excellent fielder, but never won a gold glove because of Greg Maddux. He went 105-80 as a Giant but his career ERA+ was 98.

Case in point, Kirk went 15-10 in 1999 but he had a 5.41 ERA. He had a great ERA (3.27) in his wins, but had a 10.50 ERA in 42 innings in his losses, and a 5.36 ERA in his no-decisions. There’s usually a gap, of course, but not THAT extreme. He did have one out and out ugly win, a 15-11 slugfest against the Mariners where the Giants beat up on Freddy Garcia and five relievers (Suzuki, Cloude, Zimmerman, Carmona and Rodriguez – not exactly the Nasty Boys). Ahead 11-6, with one out, Rueter gives up singles to Russ Davis and Tom Lampkin (both grounds for dismissal) and then watches as Jerry Spradlin gives up a 2-run double to A-Rod that plates them both.

He didn’t strike out anyone, in fact walked more than he struck out late in his career, but he still won games, mainly because his teammates scored 5.4 runs for him in every start. Slippin’ em each a $20 every game doesn’t hurt, does it?

The one knock against Kirk was that he didn’t last long in games. Only 48% of his starts were quality starts, and usually threw less than 100 pitches per start. In 336 games started, he completed just four. Even by today’s standards, that’s very low.

Really, all of the success metrics were against Kirk – low strikeout rate, low K/W ratio, high ERA. But he lasted in the league for over 10 seasons, and it was only when he totally fell off of a cliff in June and July of 2005 did the Giants pull the plug on him. He gave up a lot of crooked numbers that season and Felipe Alou and the Giants reluctantly let him go in August of that year.

Maybe there was magic in those ears?

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