Brandon Webb, All-Star pitcher and Cy Young winner. Remember him? The prospect out of Kentucky was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft. A draft that consisted of the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee.
To the dismay of many, Webb didn’t have the Minor League career that was expected of him. In three starts in his final season with Triple-A Tucson, Webb posted a 1-1 record with a 6.00 ERA. Though not a great season in the eyes of some MLB scouts, the Diamondbacks took the risk and inserted him into the rotation for the 2003 season.
In his first season, Webb finished the year with a 10-9 record and a 2.84 ERA. He placed third in the Rookie of the Year voting and earned himself the Baseball America Rookie Of The Year Honors. After a couple of inconsistent seasons, Webb was off to a phenomenal start in the first half of his 2006 campaign.
Through his first 13 outings, he had a perfect 8-0 record. Webb, who was known for his infamous sinker ball, owned one of the best ground ball/fly ball ratio in baseball. He finished the season with a 16-8 record and an ERA of 3.10. Though his 16 wins tied five other pitchers in the National League, Webb won the Cy Young Award. His ERA was the fourth-best in the Majors.
Webb’s best season by far came in 2008. He was able to overshadow his spotless 2006 first half with a historic 9-0 record. It seemed that no team had the capability to cool Webb down as he fueled himself to a career-high 22 wins and seven losses. Though it was a better year than his Cy Young season, Webb came up short to division rival Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants who had a 18-5 record with a 2.62 ERA.
After being named No. 31 on the Sporting News’ list of the 50 greatest current players in all of baseball, there were high hopes for Webb and his squad entering the 2009 season. Just as high as those hopes were, they quickly fell after Webb left Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies after pitching just four innings. He was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis.
Thus began the downfall of Brandon Webb.
Surgery was performed on Webb by Dr. Keith Meister of the Rangers, ending his season. Despite the injury, the Diamondbacks picked up Webb’s $8.5 million option for 2010. Unfortunately for Arizona, Webb took the opportunity to rehab his shoulder and missed the entire season, becoming a free agent the following year.
Webb received a belated Christmas present on December 26, as he signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers. For the Rangers, the signing of Webb was looked more as a rehab project as he made his first start in more than two years for Double-A Frisco. The hype slowly died down as Webb allowed five runs on eight hits in over three innings of work.
It was later announced that Webb would undergo a second right rotator cuff surgery that would sideline him until the start of the 2012 season.
No team decided to take a chance on Webb as he remained a free agent for 2012. As he was beginning to become an afterthought in all of baseball, it was no surprise when the news broke out that Webb would be retiring from MLB.
One could only imagine that if injuries didn’t plague Webb’s career, that he would have been able to continue his reign of dominance. The world may never know of what could have become of Webb, but he did have a successful career to say the least.
On top of Webb winning the Cy Young in 2008, he was also a three-time All Star. At 33, there is always a sign of hope that Webb may try one more time for a comeback, but for now, Webb may find better success on the golf course.