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Chuck Finley and the 11 Most Underrated Pitchers of the Last 25 Years

Anthony EmmerlingContributor IIJanuary 10, 2012

Chuck Finley and the 11 Most Underrated Pitchers of the Last 25 Years

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    Throughout the history of Major League Baseball there have been many players who have been overlooked, undervalued and under appreciated. It takes a true fan of baseball to recognize these players and often times it is only the hometown fans that truly realize how great these players are. 

    Pitchers seem to get overlooked quite a bit. They pitch only a few times a week and rarely make the highlight reels unless they throw a shutout or make an amazing play. That makes them no less important than a position player.

    In recent years there has been a great influx of young pitchers throughout both leagues. As they mature, there will be those who find the headlines and become household names. In contrast, there will also be those who fail to find the headlines. That does not necessarily mean that they are bad pitchers. In fact they can simply be overlooked. 

    Chuck Finley is one of many pitchers who has been overlooked and underrated in the past 25 years. Here are 11 of the most underrated pitchers to take the mound in those 25 years, in no particular order.

Chuck Finley

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    Most Angels fans know the name Chuck Finley. He has been inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame and has stood as an icon pitcher in Anaheim. 

    After making his debut in 1986, at the age of 23, Finley grew to become a quality pitcher and stayed with the Angels for 14 years. After leaving Anaheim at the age of 37, Finley went on to play for the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals. His best seasons however, came in an Angels uniform. 

    In 1990, Finley would go on to win 18 games while sporting a 2.40 ERA. That would be only one of the 12 times that Finley would collect 10 or more wins in a single season. 

    The five-time all-star pitched his last season in 2002, but managed to collect an even 200 career wins while posting a career ERA of 3.85.

Jamie Moyer

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    Many people may simply see him as the 49 year old pitcher who still wants to pitch, but the truth is that Jamie Moyer has been one of the most underrated pitchers throughout his career. His ability to win games and minimize losses is truly astounding. 

    Despite posting a 4.24 career ERA, Moyer lost only 204 games over a career that spanned 24 years. As a comparison, the iconic Nolan Ryan lost 88 more games in his 27 year career while posting a 3.19 ERA. These sort of stats show that Moyer continued to put his team in a position to win even if he was allowing runs to score. 

    Over the span of his career, Moyer pitched for a total of seven different teams and collected 267 career wins. 

    Although he may be underrated as a pitcher, it is doubtful that anyone could underestimate his love for the game of baseball after pitching as long as he did. 

Dan Haren

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    One of today's most underrated pitchers has to be Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Currently, Haren sits behind Angels ace Jered Weaver who tends to get much of the publicity when it comes to the Angels stellar pitching staff. 

    Throughout his career, Haren has also spent time pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals. 

    During his nine seasons in the majors, Haren has collected 107 wins while sporting a 3.59 ERA in 256 starts. Haren has also been a workhorse, pitching over 200 innings in seven of those seasons. He also has managed to earn ten or more wins in every season since 2005.

Tom Henke

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    Combining most of his playing time between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, Henke in one of the most underrated closers to take the mound in the past 25 years. 

    When compared to Hall-of-Famer Rich Gossage, Henke looks as such:

     


    W L W-L% ERA SV
    Tom Henke 41 42 .494 2.67 311
    Rich "Goose" Gossage 124 107 .537 3.01 310

     

    While these stats show why Gossage got into the Hall of Fame after 22 years of pitching, they also show that Henke was not at all a bad pitcher. He managed to collect his stats in 14 total seasons. 

    Henke's strong career places him at number 18 among all-time saves leaders.

John Smoltz

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    When people think of John Smoltz, their minds usually begin focusing on pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Their is good reason for that as both pitchers managed to win over 300 games in their careers, but the career of John Smoltz cannot be overlooked. Spending much of his career in the shadow of those two, caused Smoltz to be one of the more underrated pitchers.

    Throughout a successful career, Smoltz managed to collect 213 wins while posting a 3.33 ERA and averaging over 200 innings a year. Had Smoltz been a starter for his entire career, he too could have possibly made a push to enter the 300 wins club with his two mentors, Glavine and Maddux. Instead Smoltz spent four years as an all-star quality closer and a few more years as a reliever for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. 

    Smoltz's best year as a starter came in 1996 when he managed to win 24 games while posting a 2.94 ERA over 253.2 innings pitched. That performance would ultimately earn him a Cy Young award.

Roy Oswalt

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    It was not until after being traded from the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies, that many understood just how good of a pitcher that Roy Oswalt was. Although he currently struggles to stay healthy at the age of 34, Oswalt has put together a very solid career that remains very undervalued. 

    Oswalt quickly burst onto the scene in 2001. During his rookie campaign he would go 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA. From there, he continued to shine. He managed to post back-to-back 20 win seasons with the Astros in 2004 and 2005. 

    Despite posting a 3.21 career ERA over 11 seasons, Oswalt managed to get into the All-Star Game only three times. Over his career Oswalt also managed to collect 159 wins. 

    It also cannot be overlooked that Oswalt managed to win 10 or more games in nine of his 11 seasons pitching in the majors.

Jimmy Key

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    Jimmy Key was a very solid pitcher between 1984 and 1998. This did not prevent him from becoming a very underrated pitcher though. 

    In 12 of his 15 big league seasons, Key managed to win at least 12 games. He did this 10 straight times between 1985 and 1994. Over his entire career, he would collect 186 wins while posting a 3.51 earned run average. 

    Key spent nine years with the Toronto Blue Jays before pitching for the New York Yankees for four years and eventually the Baltimore Orioles for two. He would retire after the 1998 season, but not before earning a total of four all-star appearances. 

Trevor Hoffman

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    Before recently being passed up on the all time saves leader list by Mariano Rivera, closer Trevor Hoffman held that title. This did not prevent him from being greatly overlooked. 

    Hoffman spent 16 of his 18 big league seasons with the San Diego Padres. The small market size and lack of large media outlets led Hoffman to be less publicized than the Yankees' Rivera. This did not stop Hoffman from collecting an astounding 601 career saves and passing the previous saves leader at the age of 38.

    Although there is a good possibility that Hoffman could enter the Hall of Fame, he remains an underrated pitcher because of the lack of attention that was paid to his incredible career prior to him breaking the all time saves record.

Mark Buehrle

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    One of the biggest names to change uniforms this off season is Mark Buehrle. The four time all-star will be joining the Miami Marlins after pitching all 12 seasons of his career with the Chicago White Sox. It was during those 12 seasons with the White Sox, that Buehrle became one of the most underrated pitchers in the past 25 years.

    At the age of 32, Buehrle has managed to win 162 games and had posted a 3.82 ERA over those 12 years withe the White Sox. Buehrle has been a workhorse throughout his career, averaging 223 innings pitched per season. 

    In every season, excluding his debut season in 2000, Buehrle has managed to win at least 10 games. This proves that he is a pitcher who cannot only pitch well, but can also be relied on to win games for his ballclub. 

    While Buehrle is no Roy Halladay, it is only fair that he receives the amount of credit that he deserves given the solid career that he has had so far. 

Mike Mussina

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    When discussing the best pitchers in baseball between 1991 and 2008, one has to include Mike Mussina. 

    Not enough can be said about Mussina's ability to win games and pitch effectively. His brilliance on the mound earned him five all-star appearances and seven gold gloves. Although he never managed to capture either award, he also earned numerous Cy Young and MVP votes. 

    During his 18 year career, Mussina pitched for both the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. He spent 10 of those years with the Orioles and 8 with the Yankees, His career numbers include 270 wins and a 3.68 ERA over 537 games pitched. 

    Mussina also managed to accomplish one of the most amazing feats in the game of baseball. In 17 of the 18 seasons in which he pitched, he earned 10 or more wins. The only season in which he did not win 10 or more games was his rookie season in 1991.

    During the 2008 season, Mussina went 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA at the age of 39. He decided to retire shortly after the season was over. 

Tim Hudson

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    The Atlanta Braves organization seems to continuously push out solid pitchers and Tim Hudson is no exception. Hudson is a very solid starter and may be one of the most underrated players in the game today.

    If you think Roy Halladay has been one of the best pitchers over the span of his 14 year career, take a look at his career stats when compared to the career stats of Tim Hudson over his 13 year career.

      W L W-L% ERA CG IP SO
    Tim Hudson 181  97  .651  3.40  24  2503.1  1699 
    Roy Halladay 188  92  .671  3.23  66  2531.0  1934

     

    While Halladay seems to be the better pitcher, when looking at these stats it is important to remember that he has one more season than Hudson has. 

    It is not an argument over whether Hudson is better than Halladay, most would agree that the latter is the better of the two pitchers, instead these stats are used to illustrate that Hudson has put up very comparable numbers. 

    Hudson is underrated in that he does not get the sort of publicity and attention that his sort of career numbers warrant.

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