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A Cautionary Tale

The following is a reader response from Brian Bach to something I said a few days ago, quoted in its entirety:

Jeff, On your comment below:

Felix Hernandez, right now, is one of the top ten or fifteen starters in baseball. How often can you say that about a guy who was pitching in A-ball the previous year? (Hint: Never.)

Wally Bunker, Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles and KC Royals.

1963  Stockton, CA, Class A, after graduating from HS.  Age 18.

1964  Baltimore Orioles.  Age 19.  214 IP, GS 29, CG 12, WL 19-5, 2.69 ERA, ERA+ 133, Rookie Pitcher of the Year

The rest of the story(:)

1965  Age 20.  189 IP, GS 27, CG 3.  WL 10-8, 3.38 ERA.  Developed Tendinitis in Elbow.  
1966  Age 21.  142 IP, GS 24, CG 3.  WL 10-6, 4.29 ERA. Pitched a CG shutout of the LA Dodgers 1-0 in WS Game 3.  Trying to overcome tendinitis, developed bursitis in shoulder.
1967  Age 22.  88 IP, GS 9, CG 1.  WL 3-7, 4.09 ERA.
1969  Age 24.  Traded to KC.  Last big season.
222 IP, GS 31, CG 10.  WL 12-11, 3.23 ERA.  1972  Age 27.  Out of baseball

Anyway, I only know this because Wally is my cousin.  

His is a classic case of young pitcher abuse.  One hopes baseball organizations have learned something over the last 35-40 years, but the M's have a history of going way over pitcher abuse points.  One can only hope the M's really use caution as Felix continues to develop.