Tuesday, March 31, 2009

7 Days, 7 Years: 2003

That's right, assholes, only 7 days left until winter officially ends and God returns to us the smell of freshly cut grass, pine tar, steroid allegations and wintergreen skoal. So, in honor of this divine festival of baseball, day-drinking and tears of joy, we will be counting down the top pitching performances from the past 7 seasons, starting with 2002, and ending with 2008. Feel free to disagree in the comments. Or short walk, long pier. Either way, it's time to rejoice.

2003 - Mark Prior, Chicago Cubs

Stats: 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 245 K's, 3rd in National League Cy Young Award Voting

There is no doubt that in roughly five years, people will begin to forget the legend that was Mark Prior. And why shouldn't they? They man hasn't pitched since 2006, and has had more surgeries than Mike Hampton and former battery-mate Kerry Wood combined (see here for the full list). But for one season, he was the face of MLB's next generation of Aces.

In 2003, at a very green 22 years old, Prior stepped into the Cubs rotation and immediately became the most-dominate pitcher on staff. He mixed a mid-90's fastball - which had more movement than Tony LaRussa's bladder after a chugging contest - and a plus curve ball with some serious break. He baffled veterans. Made other young ones look stupid, and cruised through the regular season.

In 30 starts, he let up more than 4 earned runs twice. He struck out 245 batters in 211 innings, pitched 3 complete games, and after missing 3 starts in July, came back to go 10-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 95 K's in 82.2 IP in August and September. Dominance. He finished his first postseason with a 2.31 ERA and 18 K's in 23 innings. If the Bartman saga never happened, who knows what could have been?

Now, we all know the sob story that followed Dusty Baker's innings abuse with Prior - injuries, then more injuries, then more injuries, then a move to San Diego, then another injury...

Is it safe to say that Prior can be counted out? It seems that way. While he may eventually make a comeback, he'll never match the numbers he posted in 2003.


xGooks said...

Whenever I check my e-mails on my blackberry and I hit "Options" it asks me if i want to, "Mark Prior Opened"?

Which causes me to think about Mark Prior roughly 39 times per day.

It is not something I particularly enjoy and wish he'd finally just go away.

In conclusion, Mark Prior owns my blackberry and I hate him.

Doc Holliday said...

Mark Prior rests easy knowing that his spirit lives on with xGooks forever.

Anonymous said...

OOOOOOVER-------RAAAAAAAAAAATED...why dedicate even a sentence to this washed up loser who had no more then 2 seasons..whats next a expose on oil can boyd

King Dong said...

anonymous - read the article...but nice try

Dan Quisenberry said...

1 hit wonder..how about liariano now theres a real phenom

Doc Holliday said...

Read the header. The article HAD NOTHING TO DO with how good Mark Prior's career was/is. It's about the most dominate pitcher of 2003. It's not complicated, at all.