Over the next couple of weeks I will be breaking down different players’ seasons with the 2010 campaign quickly winding down. Yesterday, I wrote about Evan Longoria‘s 30 2B/20 HR feat and today I want to talk about the only side of the spectrum—the hard luck 2010 for Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf.

In 2009, Ohlendorf enjoyed a semi-breakout year where he posted an 11-10 record with a 3.92 ERA in 29 starts. Hey, for the Pirates to get that from a second year pitcher who came over in a trade, that’s f’n spectacular. This year, however, Ollie has been victorious in exactly one game. He’s 1-11 on the season despite a decent ERA of 4.07. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that wins as a top stat to define a pitcher is clearly overrated. There are plenty of other factors that go into wins for a starting pitcher that they don’t have any control of throughout the game—how many runs your offense scores behind you, how did the defense play, etc. But 1-11? That’s pretty unlucky, even historically unlucky.

Consider this. Since 1901, Ohlendorf is only the second pitcher in MLB history to make at least 20 starts, sport an ERA under 4.50 and record one win in a season:

Rk Player W GS ERA Year Age Tm G CG L IP
1 Ross Ohlendorf 1 21 4.07 2010 27 PIT 21 0 11 108.1
2 Jack Nabors 1 30 3.47 1916 28 PHA 40 11 20 212.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/10/2010.

Ah yes, remember those great days of Jack Nabors of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916? The poor guy went 1-20 despite a 3.49 ERA. Ouch. He only pitched three seasons and finished 1-25 in his career. Talk about tough luck. But that’s it. Ross matched a dubious feat only seen one in over 100 years of baseball. Boy, it’s fantastic to be a Pirates fan! Ugh.

To make matters worse, Ohlendorf’s season took a scary turn on July 28 when he took a line drive from Troy Tulowitzki‘s bat off his head against the Rockies. Amazingly enough, he suffered no concussion and return to the mound five days later. He pitched four more effective starts (0-2, 2.45) before leaving August 23’s game against the Cardinals after just two batters due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder, effectively ending a season he wishes he could forget.

Heading into that Aug. 23 game, Ohlendorf had pitched solid over his last 10 starts. Since June 22, he posted a 2.35 ERA (53.4 IP/14 ER) while recording his only win of the season. One win during that stretch of pitching that including seven quality starts is insane. Nothing went right for him this season.

Of course some people (mostly sabermetric gurus) will argue that his xFIP of 4.98 suggests he’s been a bit lucky this year and his ERA could easily be higher, but the bottom line is that it’s not higher. His BABIP was up almost 30 points from last year from .265 to .293 so you could argue that he was unlucky on the balls hit into the field and it could have even been lower. Moreover, he exited eight games this year after allowing only two earned or less. His ERA may have been lower than what it should have been, but he was equally unlucky in how his team played behind him in the win column.

The 2010 season was one that Ross and the Pirates will love to move on from because his luck would appear to have nowhere to go but up for next reason…right? I sure hope so anyway.

Advertisements