Bobby Witt had a career that had insanely high expectations. He was expected to be a huge star and was included in one of the most startling trades in recent history.
While he never achieve superstar status, he managed to play for 16 seasons and became a millionaire and a World Champion along the way.
Witt was drafted by the Rangers with the third pick of the 1985 draft out of the University of Oklahoma.
A Hall of Famer was picked right after him with the 4th pick, Barry Larkin. The 6th pick with Barry Bonds.
So yeah, the Rangers could have drafted Larkin or Bonds. Then again, the 5th pick was used by the White Sox to draft Kurt Brown who never made it to the major leagues, so it could have been worse.
By 1986, Witt was in the majors. He had dynamic stuff and huge control issues. He struck out 174 in 157 2/3 innings his rookie season. He also led the league in walks in 3 of his first 4 years in the bigs. His ERA was over 5 that 1986 season but by 1988, the 24 year old Witt threw to a 3.92 ERA and completed 13 games for Bobby Valentine and the Rangers.
By 1990, while teammates with Nolan Ryan, Witt put it together for a 17 win season, going 222 innings, keeping his ERA down to 3.36 while striking out 221. The 26 year old looked like he had turned a corner.
Unfortunately injuries made his 1991 campaign disappointing. An up and down 1992 season ended with a shocker. On the last day of August, he was sent along with Ruben Sierra and Jeff Russell, to the Oakland A’s for Jose Canseco.
Oakland was tired of Canseco’s act and figured Sierra’s bat and some pitching depth was worth a long run in October of 1992. As it turned out, the Blue Jays stunned the A’s in 6 and Witt, throwing one inning in relief.
As the A’s fortunes faded after 1992, Witt posted a pair of mediocre seasons in Oakland. After the strike ended, he split 1995 between the Marlins and the Rangers.
The 1996 Rangers were the first Texas team to make the post season. Witt won 16 games for the squad but did so with a massive 5.41 ERA. The hitters park that was in Arlington plus the steroid era could not have helped his numbers. He got a no decision in his one post season start, getting clobbered by the Yankees over 3 1/3 innings.
Between 1997 and the end of his career in 2001, Witt bounced from team to team. He was teammates with Mark McGwire in his 1998 home run chase in St. Louis. He had a poor season with the 1999 Devil Rays and hurt much of the 2000 season with Cleveland.
Finally in 2001, he joined the Diamondbacks, starting 7 games and relieving in 7 games. He made two appearances in the post season, one in the NLCS against Atlanta and a scoreless inning in the World Series against the Yankees.
Arizona would shock the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the World Series, making first time World Champions out of many veterans, including Bobby Witt.
Retired, he is now an agent and living in Texas. Was his career an all time star one? Of course not. Should the Rangers have picked Barry Bonds? How could it have hurt?
But is a 16 year career ending with a World Series title a career worth saluting? I think so.
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