It has been a quiet offseason for Kenny Rogers. All indications are that 44-year-old southpaw has hung up his spikes after a quality 20-year career. There has not been any official announcement, but many of those close to Rogers, including Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp, say he is retired.
It is amazing what Rogers was able to accomplish late in his career during his days as a Tiger. His longevity as a pitcher is a testament to the idea that if you are left-handed and have a pulse, there is a job for you in the big leagues.
Rogers rose above and beyond that. When he was brought to Detroit in 2006, the Tigers got more than a used-up left-hander. At the time, Rogers was among the all-time leaders in pickoffs with a four Gold Glove awards, three all-star selections, a World Series ring, and a perfect game under his belt.
Rogers became a perfect fit in Detroit, a mentor to a Tiger pitcher staff that needed an experienced arm to show them a thing or two.
I was among those surprised in 2006 when Rogers became an all star yet again and won 17 games. The surging Tigers sprinted into the playoffs. Even better was Rogers' postseason, which included 23 consecutive scoreless innings.
Even fairy tales must end eventually, however. 2007 saw Rogers injured and limited to 11 starts. 2008 finally saw the decline of Rogers. His pitching was less effective, his earned run average was 5.70, and he was no longer able to get guys out like he used to.
Despite that, Rogers did very well in his career with what he had. Possessing a fastball that only topped out at about 86 MPH, Rogers made outs with a lot of other tools he developed.
His pickoff move was fantastic and he captured the all-time mark in 2008 with 93 pickoffs. He had a fantastic changeup, and he fielded his position better than most, winning another Gold Glove while in Detroit to give him five for his career.
What Kenny Rogers accomplished in his 40s puts him in elite company, with the likes of Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux in the present era. Maddux just retired this past offseason, and it appears as if Rogers has joined him.
After 20 years in the big leagues and a World Series championship among his many accomplishments, Rogers seems poised to lead a quiet life as a family man. Best of luck to you, Kenny.