In news that was mostly overlooked because of that big football game everyone was paying attention to yesterday, long-time pitcher Kevin Millwood has decided to walk away from the game after his 16-year career. After going through the Braves farm system, Millwood became a bit of a journeyman, playing for seven different teams during his time as a professional. To give him a proper send-off, let’s take a look at what he accomplished in his career.
Millwood hailed from Gastonia, North Carolina, and decided to enter professional baseball straight out of Bessemer City High School instead of going to college. The Braves made that decision possible, as they selected Millwood in the 11th round of the 1993 amateur player draft. He spent time time in Atlanta’s minor league system until he turned 22, not ever having an incredibly dominant season, until he was promoted to Triple-A in the middle of the 1997 season; in nine starts, he went 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 0.89 WHIP with 46 strikeouts in 60.2 IP. He appeared in 12 games (8 starts) in the Big Leagues in 1997, but he became a permanent member of the Atlanta rotation in ’98, as he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the NL East division champions.
The best statistical season of his career came in 1999, as he earned his first and only All-Star selection, came in third for the NL Cy Young and placed 26th in NL MVP voting. Millwood went 18-7 with a 2.68 ERA, league-leading 0.996 WHIP, and 205 strikeouts in 228 innings pitched (33 starts). It was obvious the Braves felt they had a budding star on their hands, as Millwood continued to improve, and had plenty of room to grow at the age of 24. However, despite having more success in his next three seasons with Atlanta, he was traded to Phladelphia for Johnny Estrada before the ’03 season.
He spent two years with the Phillies, and racked up his first career no-hitter in his first season with Philly. Once he left the city of Brotherly Love, he started to bounce around, as he spent one year in Cleveland, four years in Texas with the Rangers, then one year each in the Big Leagues with the Rockies, Orioles, and Mariners. The highlight of his 2012 season was throwing the first six innings of a combined no-hitter in June for Seattle, as he only left the game due to an injury.
Looking back on his career, he didn’t amount to the ace the Braves were hoping he’d be, but he certainly was a viable pitcher for the back-end of any rotation. He compiled a career record of 169-152 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 2,083 strikeouts in 2,720.1 innings pitched. In his announcement over the weekend, he cited that as a 38-year-old with a family, he’d like to spend more time with them. After making approximately $90 million during his 16 years in the Major Leagues, I would say he doesn’t have to worry about catching on with another team for 2013.
So, congratulations, Mr. Millwood. You got the opportunity to live out every young boy’s dream to the fullest. I wish you well as you enter the next phase of your life.
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