Monday, October 12, 2015

Ex-Twin watch: LaTroy Hawkins

LaTroy Hawkins left the Twins after the 2003 season,
and he's still pitching in the majors -- for now.
LaTroy Hawkins intends this to be his final major league season. Here's hoping his last appearance isn't Friday's loss in the division series.

Hawkins is, apparently, one of the last men in the Toronto bullpen. (So too is fellow former Twins Liam Hendriks, of whom I may blog as the postseason progresses.) The Hawk didn't get into Friday's game until the 14th inning, when he yielded three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning and was saddled with the loss.

The Hawk is 42 and has been in the majors for 21 seasons, His 1,042 appearances ranks 10th on the all-time list; should he renege on his retirement plans and duplicate this season's 42 games pitched, he'd climb into the top five all time.

It's an intriguing career. Longevity is usually related to quality, but Hawkins has a modest career record of 75-94, 4.31. The only category he ever led the league in was earned runs allowed (129 in 1999).

To be sure, that record is tainted by the Twins' persistent attempts in the 1990s to find a starting pitcher in his talent; his ERA in his 98 career starts was 6.11. Hawkins has said that he thanks God everyday for Tom Kelly, who made him a relief pitcher, but it was also Kelly who ran him out for all 98 of those starts.

Obviously, Hawkins thrived in the bullpen. He had a few scattered seasons in which he found himself closing, but for most of his career he was a seventh-inning guy -- a set-up man, and not even the top option. He pitched for 11 teams in his 21 seasons, with nine years in Minnesota. Once he left the Twins as a free agent, he was a wandering arm for hire.

Baseball Reference estimates that he's made more than $47 million in his major league career. Nice work if you can get it and keep it. For more than two decades, Hawkins has always found somebody willing to pay him to fill out the pitching staff.

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