Dontrelle for the AHFR
Note: if you have any connection to the outside world, you will realize that this is about a month too late. I meant to post this when it was relevant but I realized I had better things to do. Now that I don’t have better things to do, here you go. It’s about time to pump some blood into this dead baby.
Here I am, sitting home late Sunday as I watch the San Francisco Giants claim their second World Series in the last three seasons when I think about the pitching in this series: Verlander’s dominance the past few seasons; Lincecum’s decline simultaneous to Zito’s rise the past 162 games. My mind begins to wander further and somehow lands upon this debate: who else has had a worse collapse (in any sport, not just baseball) than Dontrelle Willis? I thought long and hard about this but could not come up with anyone. Guys who did not pan out are a dime a dozen. What’s more pricey are guys who were at the top then lost “it” completely, whatever “it” is.
A quick Google search of Willis makes my hypothesis much more convincing. He debuted in May of 2003 (was drafted in 2000) and then went on to be an MLB All-star, NL ROY and a World Series champion that same year. Then in 2005 he had another All-Star worthy campaign leading the NL with 22 wins and finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting.
Cue the slippery slope.
In 2006, Willis led the MLB in HBP’s. 2007, he allowed the most Earned Runs in the NL (118). 2008 saw him in a Detroit Tigers jersey as well as suffering injuries that would plague the rest of his career.
After 4 abhorrent seasons as a professional baseball player (not necessarily meaning in the MLB), Dontrelle Willis decided to call it quits. The remainder of his career was a rollercoaster of injuries, anxiety issues, new teams and baseball leagues that had 1-3 A’s in the title. From 2008 to 2011 he pitched 265.1 innings as a Major Leaguer. Contrast that from 2005 alone where he pitched 236.1 pitches. In each of those 4 seasons, he put up a negative WAR.
There were quite a few honorable mentions for the accolade but two that came up between some friends and I was Tiger Woods and Barry Zito. The arguments were Tiger obviously being plagued by his extra-marital affairs and Zito signing one of the biggest contracts for a pitcher then not even making the post-season roster for the San Francisco Giants, respectively. But my rebuttal is this: Tiger woods still plays and wins tournaments on the PGA Tour. If he lost his tour card and began losing on the Nationwide Tour, I could be convinced of him claiming this title. And same with Zito: yeah he became very irrelevant but like I said at the beginning of this article, he just won a World Series title as a starter for the Giants.
(Other people have been mentioned since this was actually written but I don’t feel like naming them and doing more research so fuck you.)
So after some research and debate, my hypothesis stands uncontested. Dontrelle Willis has claimed the title of “Athlete with the Hardest Fall out of Relevance” (AHFR for short (pronounced AH-fur)). It is sad because I loved watching him deal the ball behind that flat-brimmed hat and jerky leg kick.