Born on October 24, 1962 in Waco, Texas, Rhodes is probably the third-greatest #53 in baseball history behind Don Drysdale and Bobby Abreu. Other Wacoites to make the majors include Lance Berkman, Schoolboy Rowe, Al Jackson and Andy Hawkins. Rhodes shares a birthday with fellow 2011 champion Cardinal Rafael Furcal, Eric Hosmer, Ron Gardenhire, and Louis "Chief" Sockalexis, MLB's first Native American player.
* I guessed that people from Waco were called Wacoites and was correct on the first try. I am proud of myself.
Rhodes was drafted in the second round of the 1988 draft by the Orioles and was immediately assigned to Bluefield. He made seven starts and four relief appearances for the Baby Birds, posting a 3-4 record and 3.31 ERA. He struck out 44 batters in 35.1 innings (an 11.2 K/9 ratio) and allowed only 29 hits (7.4 per 9).
He began to move up the minor-league ladder. At Double-A Hagerstown (the Suns are now the Nats' low-A team in the Sally League) he won the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year award in 1991.
That earned him a call-up to the majors to finish out the season. He made his big league debut for the O's at Texas on August 21, 1991. He gave up three runs in a four-inning start with the first two Ranger tallies scoring on wild pitches. He went without a win in his eight starts for Baltimore that year, running up an 8.00 ERA.
He began '92 at Triple-A Rochester, but worked his way back to the bigs in July, winning his first start for the Orioles with 7.2 innings of two-run ball. He was much better than the previous year, going 7-5 with a 3.63 ERA. Nine of his 15 starts were "quality starts," including this complete-game five-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium.
That blanking was his 12th career game. He's the last visiting pitcher to shut out the Yankees within his first 12 outings:
|1||12||Arthur Rhodes||1992-07-29||BAL||NYY||W 6-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||5||0||0||2||8||83|
|2||10||Ed Correa||1986-05-02||TEX||NYY||W 7-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||3||0||0||5||9||85|
|3||9||Ron Romanick||1984-05-20||CAL||NYY||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||3||0||0||3||4||82|
|4||12||Matt Young||1983-06-03||SEA||NYY||W 5-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||2||0||0||2||8||89|
|5||9||Brian Denman||1982-10-02||BOS||NYY||W 5-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||6||0||0||1||2||76|
|6||1||Billy Rohr||1967-04-14||BOS||NYY||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||1||0||0||5||2||82|
|7||6||Jim Lonborg||1965-05-19||BOS||NYY||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||4||0||0||3||0||76|
|8||1||Luis Tiant||1964-07-19 (2)||CLE||NYY||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||4||0||0||4||11||86|
|9||12||Don Ferrarese||1956-05-12||BAL||NYY||W 1-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||2||0||0||1||8||90|
|10||10||Bob Cain||1950-05-04||CHW||NYY||W 15-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||5||0||0||5||4||76|
|11||8||Les Mueller||1945-05-31||DET||NYY||W 2-0||9.0||2||0||0||2||3||84|
|12||9||Milo Candini||1943-06-23 (1)||WSH||NYY||W 8-0||9.0||6||0||0||1||4||78|
|13||3||Spike Merena||1934-09-24||BOS||NYY||W 5-0||9.0||4||0||0||4||2||77|
Billy Rohr's 1967 game was his major league debut. He outdueled Whitey Ford and was one strike away from a no-hitter, but Elston Howard singled to break it up.
Rhodes took big steps back in 1993 and 1994. Over the next two and a half years in the O's rotation, he walked nearly five batters per nine innings on the way to a 6.47 ERA.
Things turned around on July 13, 1995 when he was called on to relieve Mike Mussina, who had given up six runs and was knocked out in the first inning. Rhodes shut down the Royals, allowing the Orioles to come all the way back from a 6-0 deficit. He retired 20 of 22 at one point before allowing a solo homer to '94 AL Rookie of the Year Bob Hamelin*. He stood to get the win, but KC came back against Doug Jones to win it in the ninth.
* Hamelin was also a second rounder in 1988, taken by the Royals 14 picks after Baltimore chose Rhodes. Hamelin beat out Manny Ramirez, Jim Edmonds and Rusty Greer, among others for the ROY award. The Royals DH had 2.6 bWAR in that first season and was on his way to being the best player from that round. He hit .235 with 41 homers and -0.2 bWAR over the next four seasons and was finished professionally at 31. Rhodes, who had -1.4 bWAR in his first five seasons, pitched for 16 more years after serving up that home run.
He found a home in the bullpen. After getting the start in his first 59 games, all but two of his last 841 came in relief.
After a good 1996 postseason in which he allowed one run on three hits in five games, he had an excellent '97 season. Rhodes struck out 102 in 95.1 innings while registering an ERA+ of 146. He even received some down-ballot MVP votes and finished 20th.
The lefty signed with Seattle after the 1999 season. He had spent the first nine years of his big league career with Baltimore and only seven pitchers have pitched more than nine seasons for the Orioles:
|Jim Palmer HOF||S||C||F||19||1965||1984||6||268||152||2.86||558||521||3948.0||125|
After a so-so 2000 regular season to begin his Mariners tenure,the wheels fell off in the postseason. Dating back to '96, Rhodes had a string of ten scoreless outings, allowing four hits and whiffing 11 in 9.2 innings. Then came Game Two of the ALCS against the Yankees. Seattle took the opener and held a 1-0 lead in the eighth the next night. Rhodes came in and quickly went double, RBI single, single, RBI single, sac fly and was taken out with the M's down 3-1. The Yanks scored seven runs in the inning to even the series.
Rhodes did work a scoreless inning and a third to help keep Seattle alive in Game Five and send the series back to New York, but Game Six was another nightmarish outing.
The Mets had clinched the National League pennant the night before and the city was clamoring for a Subway Series. With yours truly in attendance, Seattle clung to a 4-3 lead in the seventh, but the home team rallied to put men on the corners with one out. With lefty David Justice coming to the plate, Lou Piniella called on Rhodes to wriggle out of the jam.
But this happened (YouTube video courtesy of some guy taping his television screen):
I was sitting in the loge section in right field directly underneath where Justice's blast went. The Stadium shook. Watching that video made me nostalgic for the old building. The other four batters Rhodes faced all reached and three of them scored as the Yankees broke it open to 9-4. The M's did cut it to 9-7 and even snapped Mariano Rivera's postseason-record 34.1 scoreless-inning streak, but it wasn't enough as the Yanks won the pennant.
Rhodes recovered and was part of the magical 2001 campaign in Seattle. The Mariners went 116-46, tying the 1906 Cubs' record for most wins in a season. This Beyond the Box Score article does a good job breaking down how they were so great despite losing Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez the previous three seasons.
They were a remarkably well-rounded team. The bullpen was excellent with Rhodes and Jeff Nelson setting up for closer Kaz Sasaki. Rhodes went 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA (241 ERA+) and contributed 2.4 bWAR. He struck out 83 and gave up only 46 hits in 68 innings. It's one of the great middle relief seasons ever. Here are the other seasons with at least 60 innings, 80 K's, a 240 ERA+, 2 bWAR and fewer than 50 hits (I also set that GF are less than 40% of total games to eliminate closers).
Rhodes went 8-0 in 2001. Here are the winningest seasons for pitchers that didn't lose a game:
Tom Zachry went 12-0 for the Yankees in 1929, but he is best known for something that came against New York. On September 30, 1927, the southpaw gave up Babe Ruth's 60th home run of that historic season. The homer was a game-winner in the bottom of the eighth inning. It's good to see Aaron Small's 10-0 season on here. He was a savior for an '05 Yankees team that struggled out of the gate and surged to the division title on the season's final weekend.
That '01 season included this unique game in which he didn't face a batter. In the ninth inning of a tie game against Cleveland, Rhodes was ejected in a benches-clearing incident. Before he could throw a pitch, batter Omar Vizquel demanded that Rhodes take off his earrings, complaining about their glare on a sunny day. The big lefty hurler got mad and after the benches cleared he was asked to leave the game to quell the tension. After the game, he said of Vizquel, "A little midget. I'm not worried about him. A buck 25. You think I'm scared of him?"
Anyway, the Mariners won the West by 14 games over the 102-win Oakland A's, who had the second-best record in the majors by seven games but had to settle for the wild card. They eked out an ALDS win over Cleveland that went the full five games. The Yankees came back from 2-0 down to beat the A's in five and set up an ALCS rematch.
The Yankees led two games to one and the pivotal fourth game was scoreless through seven innings. Bret Boone homered off Ramiro Mendoza in the top of the eighth for the game's first run. Rhodes started the bottom half with a strikeout of Justice to put Seattle five outs from tying the series. But Bernie Williams swatted a homer to even the game at 1-1. Sasaki pitched the ninth and surrendered a two-run walk-off homer to Alfonso Soriano that gave New York a 3-1 series lead. The Yankees romped the next night to win their fourth straight pennant and derail the Mariners season short of the Fall Classic.
Ask any Yankees fan about Arthur Rhodes and they'll probably say something like, "oh yeah, that lefty that always got shelled in the big spot." Well that was really just a case of three big games against New York. Outside of the 2000 and 2001 ALCS, he allowed one run in 16 postseason innings, posting a 0.56 ERA in 23 games.
He's tied for third in postseason blown saves. I would have bet my life that Armando Benitez topped this list:
|1||Armando Benitez||6||Ind. Games||2||1||9.95||6.1||10||7||3||7||9||2.68|
|2||Mariano Rivera||5||Ind. Games||0||1||3.52||7.2||10||3||1||2||7||1.57|
|3||Mitch Williams||4||Ind. Games||2||2||15.75||4.0||10||7||1||4||4||3.50|
|4||Arthur Rhodes||4||Ind. Games||0||1||43.20||1.2||9||8||2||1||1||6.00|
|5||Jose Mesa||4||Ind. Games||1||1||5.19||8.2||15||5||1||2||10||1.96|
|6||Ryan Madson||4||Ind. Games||1||0||9.00||3.0||5||3||1||1||4||2.00|
|7||Rick Honeycutt||4||Ind. Games||2||0||2.08||4.1||4||1||1||2||1||1.38|
|8||Rawly Eastwick||4||Ind. Games||3||0||6.75||5.1||9||4||2||5||3||2.63|
The Yankees punished Rhodes in the regular season as well. He faced them more than any other team besides the Rangers and they hit .298/.383/.520 as a team against him. His OPS+ against was 60 percent higher than his career norm.
He still came back and had a great year in 2002, with a 2.33 ERA and ten relief wins as he had more than 10 K/9 for the fourth straight year. His ERA nearly doubled in '03 and he was under a strikeout per inning for the first time since 1994 when he was still starting.
So the M's let him walk and he signed with the A's. After one subpar year in Oakland they traded him and LHP Mark Redman to Pittsburgh for Jason Kendall. He never played a game for the Bucs, who flipped him to Cleveland for outfielder Matt Lawton two weeks later.
The 2005 season was a good one for Rhodes, who after two down years, bounced back with a 2.08 ERA for the Tribe. He was dealt to the Phillies in '06 and after a bad year he needed Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season.
Rhodes recovered and came all the way back at 38 years old. He split the 2008 season between Seattle and Florida, allowing only one run in 25 appearances for the Marlins.
That earned him a deal with the Reds and he continued his strong pitching at 40 years of age. He earned his first All-Star selection in 2010. He didn't get into the game and was denied the chance to become the tenth-oldest pitcher in ASG history.
From April 13 to June 26, 2010 he tied a major league record with 33 consecutive scoreless appearances. He allowed only 13 hits in 30 innings and tied the mark set by Mike Myers (2000 COL) and Mark Guthrie (2002 NYM).
Rhodes put up a 179 ERA+ at 40 in 2010. Here are the oldest pitchers to register an ERA+ of 175 or better (min. 50 IP):
2010 marked the fifth time that he had an ERA+ that high. Here are the most seasons with an ERA+ of 175 or better:
|1||Mariano Rivera||13||1996||2011||26-41||Ind. Seasons|
|2||Billy Wagner||8||1999||2010||27-38||Ind. Seasons|
|3||Tom Henke||8||1982||1995||24-37||Ind. Seasons|
|4||Randy Johnson||7||1995||2004||31-40||Ind. Seasons|
|5||Pedro Martinez||6||1997||2003||25-31||Ind. Seasons|
|6||Trevor Hoffman||6||1996||2009||28-41||Ind. Seasons|
|7||Roger Clemens||6||1990||2006||27-43||Ind. Seasons|
|8||Rich Gossage||6||1975||1985||23-33||Ind. Seasons|
|9||Hoyt Wilhelm||6||1954||1968||31-45||Ind. Seasons|
|10||Walter Johnson||6||1910||1919||22-31||Ind. Seasons|
|11||Jonathan Papelbon||5||2006||2012||25-31||Ind. Seasons|
|12||Joe Nathan||5||2004||2009||29-34||Ind. Seasons|
|13||Jose Valverde||5||2003||2011||25-33||Ind. Seasons|
|14||Rafael Soriano||5||2003||2012||23-32||Ind. Seasons|
|15||Arthur Rhodes||5||2001||2010||31-40||Ind. Seasons|
|16||Armando Benitez||5||1994||2004||21-31||Ind. Seasons|
Mariano Rivera: very good. This list obviously skews toward relievers who work fewer innings.
Still in the game at 41, he signed with the Rangers last year, but was released in August after posting a 4.81 ERA in 32 games. The Cardinals immediately took a flyer on him and he pitched well in September. St. Louis, ten games back on August 27, finished 21-8 to stun the collapsing Braves and win the wild card on the last day of the season.
Rhodes faced one batter each in three NLDS games (Ryan Howard twice and Raul Ibanez once), retiring him all three times as the Redbirds upset the heavily-favored Phillies. They also beat the division-rival Brewers to win the pennant and Rhodes was now in the World Series for the first time in his 21-year career.
His opponent was a familiar one. They would play the Rangers, who released him in August.
He set down Josh Hamilton to end the eighth inning of a Game One win. Game Two was a classic. The Cards led 1-0, but when Jason Motte got in trouble in the ninth, he handed a second-and-third, no-out jam to Rhodes with Hamilton coming up.
Rhodes induced a fly ball out, but it was enough to bring home the tying run. He was credited with a blown save for that one even though he inherited quite a mess. Another sac fly gave Texas the win and a tied series.
After the incredible sixth game, which was one of the greatest ever played, it came down to Game Seven. Chris Carpenter outpitched Matt Harrison and handed a three-run lead to the bullpen with a runner at second and no outs in the seventh.
Rhodes was the first St. Louis reliever and he got the one batter he faced, Yorvit Torrealba, to fly out. Octavio Dotel got the next two batters to end the threat. Lance Lynn had a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Motte worked a perfect ninth to clinch the championship.
Rhodes hasn't signed with anyone for 2012, but if he never pitches again, that's not a bad way to go out.
Over the last four seasons after the TJ surgery, he reestablished himself as one of the top middle relievers in the game with a 154 OPS+. Among those with 150 innings from 2008-11, he only allowed 17.04 percent of his inherited runners to score, the fourth-lowest mark in the majors during that span.
With exactly 900 appearances, Rhodes ranks 23rd all time in games pitched:
He trails only Mike Stanton on the all-time list in Holds:
|1||Mike Stanton||266||Ind. Games||0||1||2.25||219.2||140||55||7||71||178||0.96|
|2||Arthur Rhodes||254||Ind. Games||0||1||1.21||238.1||129||32||8||72||267||0.84|
|3||Alan Embree||194||Ind. Games||0||0||1.98||145.2||91||32||4||29||124||0.82|
|4||Jesse Orosco||185||Ind. Games||0||2||2.57||119.0||72||34||9||43||118||0.97|
|5||Paul Assenmacher||180||Ind. Games||0||1||2.30||137.0||108||35||6||43||130||1.10|
|6||Dan Plesac||179||Ind. Games||0||3||2.26||123.2||86||31||9||34||150||0.97|
|7||Michael Jackson||179||Ind. Games||0||1||1.51||184.2||126||31||10||61||175||1.01|
|8||Bob Howry||178||Ind. Games||0||1||1.43||176.2||117||28||11||50||139||0.95|
|9||Paul Quantrill||177||Ind. Games||0||1||2.01||156.2||162||35||8||27||100||1.21|
|10||Jeff Nelson||177||Ind. Games||0||3||2.91||148.2||96||48||4||75||174||1.15|
Who knows if he'll land with a team this year, but if he does he'll join Jamie Moyer, Omar Vizquel and Mariano Rivera as the only players born in the 1960s to play in 2012.
It was a long career for Arthur Rhodes. It may or may not be over, but he's earned a spot in the All-Time Bluefield to the Bigs bullpen.
|SP 1||Dean Chance|
|SP 3||Bill Monbouquette|