Most Major League Baseball starting pitchers are tall and lanky, which often becomes a stereotype.
Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson doesn’t fit this stereotype. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, the former Auburn Tiger, who is currently in his 15th season in the majors — and his ninth with the Braves — has experienced more success than most people probably would have predicted when he first debuted with the Oakland Athletics at the age of 23 in 1999.
Over the next several years, Hudson became known as one of Oakland’s “Big Three” alongside fellow rotation mates Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, a pair of southpaws who made it to the big leagues in 2000. The trio led the A’s to the playoffs in four of Hudson’s six years with the club, but following the 2004 season, the right-hander was traded to the Braves for Charles Thomas, Dan Meyer and Juan Cruz.
After amassing a record of 92-39 in Oakland, Hudson didn’t quite live up to expectations during his first few years in Atlanta, as he went 14-9 in 2005 and 13-12 in 2006. However, from 2007-2012, he won at least 16 games four times, including a 17-9 campaign in 2010 that saw him post an ERA of 2.83, the second-lowest mark of his career. Even more impressive is the fact that Hudson did so after making just seven starts the previous year due to the Tommy John surgery he was forced to undergo in 2008.
Which brings us to now.
When Hudson takes the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at PNC Park, he will be looking for his 108th win in a Braves uniform and his 200th win overall, which would make him only the third active pitcher — Andy Pettitte (247) and Roy Halladay (200) are the others — to attain that many victories.
While he’s now 37 years old and on the down side of his career, the numbers that Hudson has put up are all-time great. And whenever he chooses to retire, he’ll go down as the thing that every professional athlete aspires to be: a winner.