Friday, May 24, 2013

The Amazing Walk Discipline of Bob Tewksbury

My friend Christopher and I were talking about the 1987 Yankees earlier today when he mentioned that former Yankees pitcher Bob Tewksbury walked a total of 20 batters during the 1992 season. I had mentioned that I needed to look at his statistics a bit more closely and I was amazed at how little number of batters he walked over his career. Before I go into his lack of walks, I wanted to go into a little background on Tewksbury.

Tewksbury was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 19th Round of the 1981 Draft. After a number of seasons in the minors, Tewksbury was called up in April of 1986 and made his debut on April 11, 1986. He would pitch during the 1986 and part of the 1987 season for the Yankees before being sent down to the Yankees AAA affiliate Columbus Clippers. His demotion caused Tewksbury to ask for a trade.

His wishes were granted with his being traded on July 13, 1987 with Rich Scheid and Dean Wilkins to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Steve Trout in one of the many lopsided trades the Yankees seemed to fall prey to during the late 1980's. Trout went 0-4 wth a 6.60 ERA in his only season with the Yankees and would himself be traded with Henry Cotto to the Seattle Mariners for Lee Guetterman, Clay Parker and Wade Taylor.

Tewksbury never really seemed to find himself in his season and a half with the Cubs going 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in only 8 games pitched. He would be granted free agency and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. It was with the Cardinals that he would show flashes of his limited walk potential.

In six seasons with the Cardinals (968.2 IP), Tewksbury walked a total of 125. That's an average of almost 21 walks in an average of 161 innings pitched. Here are the number of innings and walks during his six years in St. Louis:

YearIP BBBB/9
198930.0103.0
1990145.1 150.9
1991191.0 381.8
1992233.0 200.8
1993213.2 200.8
1994155.2 221.3

Tewksbury led the National League in 1992 and 1993 with less than one walk per nine innings pitched. He would still be impressive in the walks department upon joining the Texas Rangers for the 1995 season, the San Diego Padres in 1996 and the Minnesota Twins to close out his career in 1997-1998. Here are his walk totals for those seasons:

YearIPBBBB/9
1995129.2201.4
1996206.2431.9
1997168.2311.7
1998148.1201.2

Tewksbury's best season was the 1992 season when he made his only All-Star appearance and was third in the National League Cy Young Award voting. Here are his statistics for that season:
Player
WLERAGGSCGSHOW-L%
IPHRER
BBKWHIP
Bob Tewksbury

16
5
2.16
33
32
 5
 0
.762

233
217
63
56

 20 
91
1.017
Now I'm not saying that Tewksbury was an elite power pitcher and starter. Far from it, but let's see who, if anyone, came close to that 20 walk range in close to 200 innings during last season. The closest  starter that I've been able to find is Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies who walked 28 batters in 211.0 innings pitched. Kyle Lohse formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals walked 38 in 211.0 innings pitched and Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds walked 35 in 202.0 innings pitched. 

It makes you wonder what the Yankees may have looked like if they had kept pitchers like Bob Tewksbury, Doug Drabek, Jose Rijo and Al Leiter instead of trading them for players who did not produce for the team as these young players may have. The Yankees dynasty might have come sooner...or might not have come at all. I leave you to speculate on that.

Sisco Kid

P.S. Former pitcher Steve Trout who I mentioned was traded for Bob Tewksbury is the father of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Mike Trout. Figured I'd throw that little nugget of trivia out there for you gals and guys.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Bob Tewksbury's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for the article Cubs Put New Man In Action from the Chicago Tribune website dated July 17, 1987
- Click Here for the article Yanks Trade Trout, Cotto To Mariners from the Sun Sentinel website dated December 23, 1987