Our next A’s Favorites piece continues from the early 2000’s era and my favorite pitcher from those teams, Tim Hudson. Again, as a quick reminder, the genesis of this series is from a thread on Athletics Nation regarding who were some of each poster’s favorite players from the past. My responses within that thread were grouped together by era:
80’s and early 90’s – Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Carney Lansford
Late 90’s and early 2000’s – Tim Hudson and Eric Chavez
Recent departures – Kurt Suzuki
Tim Hudson took quite a path to becoming one of the better pitches baseball has seen over the past decade and a half. He was drafted by the Athletics in the 35th round but went to play at a Community College for two seasons before finally gaining recognition and landing at Auburn University. Hudson pitched his final two years at Auburn. He was also known as a good hitter in college and made the All-SEC team as both a pitcher and hitter. Tim Hudson was drafted again by the Athletics in the sixth round of the 1997 draft.
Small in stature but big in heart, Hudson quickly made his way to the pros in 1999. He was a June call-up for the Athletics that year and proceeded to go 11-2 through the rest of the season with a 3.23 ERA. In 2000, Hudson led the AL in wins posting a 20-6 record and helped lead the A’s back to the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
Tim pitched for the A’s from 1999-2004 putting up gaudy stats. In 183 starts for the A’s, Hudson was 92-39, good for a 70% win percentage clip. He posted a 3.30 ERA over that same timeframe, with 899 strikeouts and 16 complete games. He made the All Star team in 2000 and 2004 with the A’s.
As you are likely well aware, Hudson was part of Oakland’s ‘Big Three’ with Barry Zito and Mark Mulder. These three were close to dominant in the regular season and helped the team make four straight playoff appearances from 2000-2003. Unfortunately, once these A’s teams got to the playoffs, things crumbled for one reason or another.
The team decided that they needed to restock the roster and farm system and couldn’t afford to keep the big three in the middle of the decade. Hudson was traded to the Atlanta Braves for a package of players that never really became much for the A’s organization. (Why are the Braves the one team that no opposing team ever seems to "win" a trade?)
Hudson has posted similar numbers during his tenure in Atlanta and has come back Tommy John surgery during the 2008 season. The surgery cost him most of the 2009 season as well, returning for September baseball for the Braves. In 2010, Hudson returned to make 34 starts and win Comeback Player of the Year, with a 17-9 record and 2.83 ERA.
Interesting enough, Hudson has never had a record at or below .500 in his major league career. His career ERA is 3.42, which should be considered very impressive given the era that he is/was pitching in.
While his regular season numbers are strong, his postseason results are mixed. He pitched well for the A’s in their two series against the Yankees, but was hammered by the Twins in his two starts in their 2002 series. He didn’t get a decision in either of his starts when the A’s played Boston in 2003. Hudson’s time with the Braves has been met with limited success as well, as those teams have been unable to move past the NLDS in either effort (2005 and 2010).
What drew me to … Tim Hudson
Hudson was my clear favorite from the "Big Three". He had a fiery attitude and wasn’t willing to back down from anyone when on the mound. He also liked to talk a little trash out there too. While completely ridiculous, Hudson wore #15 which happened to be the number I wore in Little League and another reason that he drew my attention/fandom.
Hudson used multiple pitches to get batters out and was consistently seen as a Cy Young candidate during his tenure with the A’s. I wish that those teams from the early 2000’s were able to move along at least once to get into the longer, seven game series, where they would have held an advantage over any other pitching staff.
Where is Tim Hudson now?
‘Huddy’ is entering the final year of his current contract with the Braves, as the team picked up his option for the forthcoming season at $9 million. Hudson has stated that he would like to resign with the team beyond the 2013 season, so it doesn’t look like retirement is in his foreseeable future.
Best of luck to Hudson this upcoming season, unless of course he is facing the Athletics in the World Series!