It’s a fickle life in Major League Baseball. Here today, gone tomorrow is a phrase often used when referring to ballplayers who had a quick run of success before seemingly losing it altogether, or players felled by injuries who were unable to make it all the way back.
The stories of great fame and then injury go back many years in baseball, especially among pitchers. Dizzy Dean was a classic example.
Known as the Ace of the Gashouse Gang for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dean was the last pitcher to win 30 games in the National League, reaching that mark in 1934.
However in 1937, Dean was struck by a line drive off the bat of Earl Averill, during that year’s All-Star game, fracturing his left big toe.
When Dean attempted to come back too soon after the injury, he altered his motion, which hurt his throwing shoulder, thereby robbing him of his famous fastball. Although Dean continued to pitch for several more seasons, he never approached his earlier success.
Another example was Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve Blass. Between the years of 1968-1972, Blass was one of the better and more durable pitchers in the National League.
He amassed four 15-win seasons in five years, his best in 1972, when he posted a 19-8 record with a 2.49 earned run average, earning him a runner-up finish behind Steve Carlton in the NL Cy Young award balloting.
Blass also won two games for the Pirates in the 1971 World Series, including the clinching Game 7 victory in which Blass threw a four-hitter in Game 3.
However, in 1973, Blass slipped to 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA, and was in the minors the following season. Blass completely lost the ability to throw strikes, and his control never returned. He was out of baseball by 1975.
This season, there are quite a few pitchers who are attempting to either come back from injuries, or trying to salvage a mess of a season the year before.
We rank the top 10 pitchers who will be attempting a comeback to glory for the 2011 MLB season.