Monday, May 12, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #134 KEVIN BROWN

RESPECTED BY PLAYERS, DESPISED BY THE MEDIA.


NASTY, NASTY STUFF.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Kevin Brown was a hired gun whose aim was true. Becoming a free agent three times and traded twice, he pitched for six teams over 19 years, averaging 15 wins, 169 strikeouts, 64 walks and a 3.28 ERA. Despite not winning a Cy Young Award nor having any milestone numbers, Brown's 127 ERA+ placed him in an elite class during his career from 1989-'05. However, he was one and done in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, garnering only 2.1 percent of the vote. Steroid suspicions near the end of his career and prickliness with the media damaged his Cooperstown cause.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Brown, known for a heavy sinking fastball, had it all working on June 10, 1997, pitching for the Marlins against the Giants at Candlestick Park. He was perfect until hitting Marvin Benard in the seventh inning and settled for a no-hitter. He struck out seven in his 98-pitch masterpiece.

DEFINING SEASON

  • While leading the majors in victories in '92 with the Rangers with 21, Brown's best season was actually in '96, his first with the Marlins. He led the majors in ERA+ with 215 but won only 17 games despite a major-league-leading 1.89 ERA. He also led baseball in shutouts (three) and WHIP (0.944). He was second in the Cy Young voting to #166 John Smoltz.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Brown was the fourth overall selection in the '86 draft by the Rangers out of Georgia Tech.
  2. For what it's worth, his career 68.5 WAR ranks above Hall of Famers Jim Palmer, Carl Hubbell, Juan Marichal and Whitey Ford.
  3. While battling the flu, Brown went the distance in the deciding Game 6 of the '97 NLCS, scattering 11 hits with eight strikeouts, as the Marlins reached their first World Series with a 7-4 victory over the Braves.
  4. Dealt to the Padres in the off-season, Brown went 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA as San Diego advanced to the World Series, where they were swept by the Yankees.
  5. A free agent after the '98 season, he became baseball's first $100 million player, signing a seven-year deal with the Dodgers and going 58-32 before being traded to the Yankees in '03.

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