Arthur Rhodes – 2011 Topps Heritage

March 28, 2011

Longest Lasting Draft Bust Ever?

Ask any Baltimore fan about Rhodes, it may result in a bit of hostility and language much like Earl Weaver answering a question about a Ron Luciano call.

He was a second-round pick in 1988 and rocketed through the system and was a Top 1o prospect in 1991 and 1992, as is fitting for a lefty with a fastball and good ERAs and K/W ratios. His 1992 Baltimore season was quite nice for a young lefty, 7-5 with a 3.63 ERA. Could he be another noted lefty starter much like McNally, Cuellar and Scott McGregor?

Um, no. 1993-1995 were just awful. Yes, he pitched well in relief in 1996-1998 but had a bad year in 1999.

I would call that a bust – they drafted Rhodes to be a lefty starter and he turned into a middle reliever.

He was signed in 2000 with Seattle, and went 5-8 with a 4.28 ERA, which wasn’t that bad considering the helium balls, small parks and specialization. He was 30 years old and every year from then on was a fight to survive in the majors. 30+ middle relievers always have some drama surrounding them when it comes to cut-down date.

Except for injury rehabs (and missing an entire year with injury) he’s been in the majors each year since then. Yes, he spit the bit as Oakland’s closer in 2004. Yes, he has just 32 saves in his long career, but holds the record for most holds in the big leagues. And he was a trailblazer, earning MVP votes as a middle man in 1997 (for his 10-3 record, no doubt) and making the All-Star game this last season.

It’s quite incredible. He’s playing in a position that of all positions is totally fungible (as the hipsters like to say). One false step and he could be Jeff Kaiser, pitching in the minors for years.

But he hasn’t. And he’s made $34 million dollars – mainly because his OPS+ against lefties is 76. And what’s more incredible…

Here is a listing of who debuted in 1991 along with Rhodes:

Jeff Bagwell

Rod Beck

Ricky Bones

Scott Brosius

Vinny Castilla

Royce Clayton

Rheal Cormier

Jeff Fassero

Tom Goodwin

Pat Hentgen

Roberto Hernandez

Eric Karros

Pat Kelly

Chuck Knoblauch

Mark Lewis

Kenny Lofton

Mike Magnante

Mike Mussina

Denny Neagle

Warren Newsom

Yorkis Perez

Mike Remlinger

Ivan Rodriguez

Rey Sanchez

Reggie Sanders

Bob Scanlan

Pete Schourek

Heathcliff Slocumb

Jim Thome

Mike Timlin

Jon Vander Wal

Mo Vaughn

Don Wakamatsu

Eric Wedge

Rick Wilkins

Bernie Williams

Mark Wohlers

Anthony Young

Bob Zupcic


Rhodes kinda beat the odds, didn’t he?

5 Responses to “Arthur Rhodes – 2011 Topps Heritage”

  1. Play at the Plate Says:

    That may be my least favorite Ranger card of 2011.

    That list does have a couple of Hall of Famers on it.

  2. chuckneo Says:

    1988 Draft class.

    As a Reds fan, I love the guy – he pitched great for the last 2 years. I think Mike Stanton actually has the holds record, but I’d be willing to bet he’s got the record for the most years played before first all-star game.

    Do you know if he’s the first middle reliever to get MVP votes?

  3. R.N. Coyote Says:

    I met Arthur Rhodes almost a decade ago at pre-game autograph signing. I gave him two cards to sign and he angrily said, “I have sign all this?”

  4. […] Rhodes, P, BAL (2nd #34) – First All-Star game 22 years later (2010), check out great post by Smed on […]

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