From 2000 to 2004 the Oakland A's featured one of the best pitching rotations of all time. Lead by Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, the A's were a consistent playoff contender with exceptional pitching.
The "Big Three" as they were called, made the A's one of the best teams in all of baseball.
Tragically, however, the "Big Three" were dismantled following the 2004 season. Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were shipped off, leaving Barry Zito the only remaining member of the trio behind in Oakland. After leaving the A's, Hudson and Mulder tried to recreate the magic they had in Oakland for their new teams, while Zito tried to man the fort all by himself.
In 2005 the A's fell seven games short of the first place Angels. Tim Hudson was 14-and-9 with an ERA of 3.52 with the Braves, while Mark Mulder was 16-and-8 with a 3.64 ERA with the Cardinals.
A season later Zito would lead the A's to a postseason birth, only to get swept by the Tigers in the ALCS. Zito left for the Giants and $126 Million following the 2006 season. Since the departure of Zito, the last remaining member of the "Big Three", the A's haven't had a winning record.
But everything hasn't been good for the trio either, though. Barry Zito hasn't had a winning record since leaving to the Giants, Hudson has been struggling to stay healthy, and Mark Mulder isn't even pitching now.
Join me as I take a look at the Big Three, then and now.
Tim Hudson pitched for the A's from 2000 to 2004, and was the leading member of the A's highly talented "Big Three". Hudson, from 2001 to 2004 won 61 games, and consistently pitched 200 plus innings.
Hudson experienced his best season in 2003 when he won 16 games, threw for 240 innings, and had an ERA of 2.70. Though he never won the CY Young Award while with the A's, he was consistently in the running for the award.
Hudson was probably the most consistent of the three, making him the clear leader of the trio.
Following the 2004 season, General Manager of the A's, Billy Beane made a bold move by trading away Tim Hudson to the Atlanta Braves. Who exactly did the A's receive in return? Well...no one really.
Hudson, now 33, hasn't exactly experienced the success that he had while pitching for the A's. Hudson's best season so far with the Braves came in 2007, when he threw for 224 innings, won 16 games and had an ERA of 3.33.
Hudson has had the most success out of the three, however.
In 2000, Mark Mulder came to the big leagues and eventually became the second ace of the A's rotation.
Mulder, who had an ERA of 5.44 during his first season, rebounded in 2001 by winning 21 games. Mulder followed up his 2001 campaign with a 19-and-7 record. Mulder's ERA never did dip down to the 2's, but he did come close in 2003 when he had a 3.13.
Mulder was traded in 2004 after he saw his ERA balloon to 4.43.
Mulder, now 31, hasn't experienced much success since his departure from Oakland. Once considered one of the game's best pitchers, Mulder is currently unemployed and is trying to make a comeback.
Mulder's first season with St. Louis was clearly his best. He had an ERA of 3.64 almost one point less than his previous season, and won 16 games.
Everything, however, went downhill after that.
Mulder's ERA in 2006 was 7.14, and in 2007 is was 12.27. Last year he had an ERA of 10.80, and was injured for most of the season.
Currently Mulder is just trying to get healthy. The A's were rumored to bring Mulder back for the 2009 season. No team has signed him yet.
Zito was the third ace of the A's highly talented "Big Three" and was the last member to leave.
Zito came to the bigs in 2000 and was an immediate success. During his rookie campaign he compiled a 7-4 record, threw for 90 plus innings, and had an ERA of 2.72. Two years later in 2002 Zito won 23 games and won the American League CY Young Award. Zito followed up on his CY Young performance with a 14-and-12 record with a 3.30 ERA.
In 2004, the last season of the A's "Big Three" Zito wasn't himself, winning only 11 games. Zito took the mound in 2005 as the A's lone ace. The A's made a short run for the playoffs without two of their best pitchers, but came seven games short of the first place Angels.
In his final season with the A's, Zito came out firing. He was named the A's only All-Star in the 2006. Zito led the A's to their first ALCS birth since the early 90s, only to get swept by the Tigers.
Following the season, Zito signed a $126 Million contract with the Giants. Zito was the last member of the Big Three to leave the A's.
Zito, now 31, hasn't found the success that made him an All-Star while he was with the A's. Following the big contract signing, Zito pitched horribly in 2007 and 2008.
Zito started the 2008 season by going 0-and-8 before winning his first game. With the emergance of Tim Lincecum as the Giants' new Ace, and the signing of Randy Johnson, the focus has come off Barry Zito.
Zito is starting to look like the Zito who won 23 games in 2002. Zito has pitched effectively this season despite his low run support from the anemic Giants offense.
Though Zito's ERA isn't in the 3's, it's very encouraging for Giants fans that Zito seems to have found his lost mojo.
In 2009 Billy Beane traded for All-Star OF Matt Holliday, signed Orlando Cabrera, Nomar Garciaparra and brought back a fan favorite, Jason Giambi in the hopes that they would provide enough offense for his new "Big Three".
Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro are highly talented, but are they going to be as good as the Hudson-Mulder-Zito trio? Well, as of now they've got a shot.
Cahill has been rather consistent as of late, and Mazzaro has been extremely good since being called up. The A's youth movement is nothing new for A's fans, as the A's haven't been to playoffs since Zito left. The A's are probably a year or two away from becoming a consitent contender.
Though we all miss Hudson, Mulder and Zito we don't mind the thought of another Big Three.