OK one guess: Who in Astros history--minimum eleven career victories-- had the greatest percentage of those career wins come in one season?|
Trick question. Actually it was Sean Bergman. And of course, since I'm writing the question, I made it eleven wins because of the Johnson barrier, which says that no Astro--in his only season--shall ever win more than 10 games.
But, anyway, yeah, I knew it, you guessed Jose Lima. Certainly no Astro's crash has ever been quite as spectacular as Lima's, but as the table below will tell you, his bright, brief flash upon the scene did have some parallels:
|% of |
|% of |
|Clemens' and Pettite's numbers are current through 2006.|
|1999 Stadium Club # 11||1999 Skybox Thunder Rant # 70|
|People forget that Lima won 16 games in '98. And people also forget that, whatever else, Lima threw strikes. Jose Desiderio Rodriguez Lima is ninth all-time on the Astros list for Walks/9 Innings Pitched with a very respectable 1.97, better in that department than guys you've heard of like Vern Ruhle, Danny Darwin, and Shane Reynolds. |
So when he took that dive in 2000, it wasn't the walks that got Lima in trouble, it was the hits. Very pronouncedly, it was the hits. Lima, even in the good years, only had a so-so WHIP coz of all the hits he gave up. For example, even in his fourth-place Cy Young year of 1999, he gave up the fourth-most hits in the NL; this when he was third in the league in walks per nine. It's pretty extreme, actually: Lima is one of only seven Astros ever who gave up more than five times as many hits as walks in a career that lasted longer than 40 innings pitched.
|1. Hal Brown||34||273-1/3||1.120|
|2. Robin Roberts||20||139-2/3||1.289|
|3. Doug Jones||38||197||1.736|
|4. Dick Farrell||212||1015||1.880|
|5. Don Larsen||23||108-2/3||1.905|
|6. Don Sutton||75||353-2/3||1.909|
|7. Ron Taylor||26||122-1/3||1.913|
|8. Ken Johnson||151||690-2/3||1.968|
|9. Jose Lima||176||804||1.970|
|10. Russ Kemmerer||23||104-2/3||1.978|
|11. Shane Reynolds||358||1622-1/3||1.986|
|12. Vern Ruhle||166||749-2/3||1.993|
|2000 Fleer Ultra
Gold Medallion # 56G
2000 Stadium Club # 126
|Actually, it might not have been the hits, either. It was probably the homers. Lima's 2000 season--when he gave up 48 very celebrated jacks-- remains second only to Bert Blyleven's 1986 campaign for most homers ever given up by a major leaguer in a single year. Lima gave up a homer basically every four innings, a rate even Blyleven can't touch.|
And while I can imagine in this era of diluted pitching staffs and overmuscled sluggers a pitcher toiling in some bandbox somewhere giving up more than 48 dingers in a season, Lima's Astro record--which he holds by a healthy fourteen over his 1998 incarnation--is likely to stand for some time to come. Wade Miller did give up 31 shots in 2001, but only allowed 14 in 2002, and Oswalt has never given up more than 17. Notice, however, the rates at which Elarton in 2001 and Dotel in 2000 gave up the long ball:
|Home Runs |
Crown Collection # 15
|Those who criticize Jose Lima these days, don't, I think, fully understand how gutsy he really was. The man has a high-80's fastball, and no curve to speak of. He lived off the change-up, and the change off the change. Even in good years, he gave up homer after homer. Yet he came back with the same pitches night after night--and once won 37 games over a two year span. Cojones de latón, I think Jose himself might call that. People say he was intimidated by the new ballpark, and they're probably right. But wouldn't you be, too? Lima was a flyball pitcher, who suddenly found that the 300-foot flyballs he was giving up were now landing in the Crawford Boxes. And going to Detroit wasn't gonna help much either.|
So give the guy a break, and some credit for what he was able to accomplish.
Jose Lima was a lot of fun to watch and to follow; wearing his glove on his head, banging bats against trash cans in the dugout in order to spark some kind of half-imagined rally, the gyrations on the mound after a strikeout or a DP: the man was having a blast, and was a blast to watch.
Even during the nightmare of a 2000 season he foisted upon his fans and himself, he remained at the least entertaining and candid. As I write, Lima has just been picked up by the KC Royals, for whom he started, gave up a homer, and took the loss, a couple days ago. He's got an ERA of 6.00, but I'll be pulling for him. Imagine that: Lima Time, again!
|Postcript: It's a couple weeks later , and while it hasn't become anything like Dontrelle Willis or even Roy Halladay, Lima Time is getting some press. It helps that Lima's won two straight for the Royals as I write, but evidently he took a few minutes out while throwing on the side one day, and learned how to throw a slider. Even Rob Neyer was noticing. But If it's that easy for him, you gotta wonder why no-one tried this in 2000 or 2001. What, Dierker or Ruhle couldn't show him how to hold his fingers?|
|Post-Postcript: It's May 22, 2010. RIP Jose. It was fun to be your fan.|