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I went to Baseball-Reference.comRandom Page Ryan Rupe
To the extent that I remember Rupe, it’s from people essentially making fun of him, wondering how he could start so many games in the major leagues. The answer is fairly simple–the standards weren’t very high in the early years of the Devil Rays franchise–but still, he was bad, even by D-Rays standards.
I should preface all of this by stating that I have the utmost respect for Rupe and all other major league players, no matter how terrible they end up being at that level. With the way baseball organizations (and most other hierarchies) work, the vast majority of players end up failing eventually
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s discuss Mr. Rupe. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 6th round of the 1998 draft, out of Texas A&M. He was 23 at the time, quite old for a draftee. In his first season in the minors, Rupe posted some gawdy totals: 80 strikeouts versus just 11 walks and 3 homers in nearly 70 innings. That’s a dominant stat line, but again, Rupe was 23 years old, and he was pitching in A ball (low and high). You’d expect an experienced college pitcher to dominate at that level.
The next year, Rupe was very good in his first five starts in AA. Since the big league club was in desperate need of pitchers, and since Rupe was already 24 years old and nearing his peak, they went ahead and called him up. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad idea, even if Rupe had pitched fewer than 100 innings in the minors and had barely appeared above A ball.
Rupe is one of only 7 pitchersCasey Daigle
In his next 2 starts, Rupe did quite well (7 innings in each, a total of 5 runs, and only 1 HR allowed). But his most memorable outing came in his 4th career start: 9 innings of shutout, one-hit, no-walk ballDarin Erstad Chuck Finley Roberto Hernandez
Still, Rupe became one of just 21 pitchers (since 1919) to pitch 9 innings of shutout, 1-hit ball in his first 5 MLB games. Here’s the full list
After that game, Rupe’s career ERA was 3.25; sadly, it would never approach that territory again. He gave up 7 runs in 5.1 IP in his next start and 5 runs in 2.1 IP in the one after that. He did pitch fairly well for the rest of the 1999 season (by the offense-heavy standards of that era), finishing with a 4.55 ERA that year.
From 2000 through 2002, Rupe was a semi-regular part of the Devil Rays’ rotation, starting between 15 and 28 games each year. He struggled mightily each year, however, posting ERAs of 6.92, 6.59, and 5.60. That makes Rupe one of a select few to post at least 3 seasons of 15 or more starts and an ERA above 5.50:
|1||Jeff Weaver||4||1999||2007||22-30||Ind. Seasons|
|2||Jose Lima||4||1995||2005||22-32||Ind. Seasons|
|3||Kyle Lohse||3||2001||2010||22-31||Ind. Seasons|
|4||Rob Bell||3||2001||2003||24-26||Ind. Seasons|
|5||Ryan Rupe||3||2000||2002||25-27||Ind. Seasons|
|6||Joe Mays||3||2000||2005||24-29||Ind. Seasons|
|7||Odalis Perez||3||1999||2007||21-29||Ind. Seasons|
|8||Darren Oliver||3||1998||2001||27-30||Ind. Seasons|
|9||Glendon Rusch||3||1997||2003||22-28||Ind. Seasons|
|10||Kenny Rogers||3||1997||2008||32-43||Ind. Seasons|
|11||Jaime Navarro||3||1997||1999||30-32||Ind. Seasons|
|12||Kevin Jarvis||3||1996||2003||26-33||Ind. Seasons|
|13||Jason Bere||3||1995||2002||24-31||Ind. Seasons|
|14||Bobby Witt||3||1991||1999||27-35||Ind. Seasons|
Notice how all of these players pitched in the ’90s or early 2000′s. (Also: I miss Lima Time!) Rupe is one of just 3 guys on the list to post his years consecutively, along with Navarro and Bell.
After the 2002 season, Rupe was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. He pitched just 10 innings for Boston in 2003 before being released. For the next few years, he bounced between the Dodgers, the Marlins, and Japan, but he never pitched in MLB again. After retiring, he went back to his home town of Houston, TX, to work for a “natural gas and crude oil marketing firm.”
That quote is from an interesting articleManny Ramirez ranks right between Roger Clemens Tim Hudson
It ain’t like I had a lot of stuff to get him out with, so my philosophy with Manny was try not to walk him and let him go ahead and swing away… I wasn’t going to trick him. He was too good of a hitter to even attempt to do that, so I kind of went right after him and it seemed to work sometimes.
That’s some great stuff. I love how modest he is about it, and how he uses “ain’t.” I also think his strategy was pretty much the best possible one against Manny. It’s not like Manny was going to study Rupe’s tendencies and realize, “Hey, this guy’s only throwing me strikes!”
If anyone out there knows what Mr. Rupe is up to now, feel free to pass it along in the comments. I’d be interested to know. I think I found him on Twitter,
Ryan, if you ever read this, let me just say that you were probably better at baseball than I’ll ever be at anything. You may have had an unsuccessful MLB career, but it was memorable in some ways, and that’s pretty cool in my book.
Tagged with: bad seasons Devil Rays early-career dominance futility good bad careers Jeff Weaver Jose Lima Manny Ramirez poor 1st games Random Players Ryan Rupe
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