Ken Hill

Despite only one winning record and one ERA below 4.50 in seven stops before 1989, the St. Louis Cardinals called up Ken Hill when their staff was stricken with multiple injuries. After a good start, he found himself overmatched, and finished 7-15 with a 3.80 ERA.

In 1991, Hill finally put together a decent year, garnering 11 wins with a 3.57 ERA. That November, the Montreal Expos traded the slumping Andres Galarraga for him, and immediately reaped the benefits. While the first baseman struggled with the Cardinals, Hill’s efforts garnered him a 16-9 record, as he whiffed 150 and compiled a 2.68 ERA, establishing himself as a premier National League pitcher. In 1994, he had won 16 games for the NL-leading Expos by August and was chosen for the All-Star game a month earlier. But as Montreal seemed bound for the playoffs and Hill bound for career highs, the strike broke.

Just after spring training 1995, Hill was traded back to the Cardinals for pitchers Bryan Eversgerd and Kirk Bullinger, and outfielder Darond Stovall. However, he notched just five wins and a 5.06 ERA, and the Cards quickly put him on the trade market. Looking to bolster their pitching staff for the impending postseason, the Cleveland Indians sent David Bell, Rick Heiserman, and Pepe McNeal for Hill. He performed admirably for the Tribe, going 4-1 in the regular season and 2-1 in the postseason.

At the end of the year, Hill filed for free agency and signed with the Texas Rangers. Hill racked up 16 wins for the third time in his career, while leading the Rangers to the postseason. In 1997, Hill went to the DL and was again traded, this time to the Anaheim Angels for another journeyman, Jim Leyritz (Rob Sasser was later sent to Texas to complete the deal).

Beset by injuries, Hill mustered a 13-17 record over the next two years with the Halos. When he was relegated to bullpen duty in 1999, he spoke out against the club’s decision, claiming that his demotion was due to racism. In 2000, the aging pitcher strained his rib cage and had a bout with arthritis. The Angels had seen enough, and released him in August. Looking for a crafty veteran to support their young pitching staff in the postseason, the Chicago White Sox signed him to a minor-league contract. Unfortunately, Hill didn’t impress the South Side by giving up eight runs over three innings of work, and the White Sox released him just a couple of weeks after signing him.

The Devil Rays invited him to camp as a non-roster invitee before spring training 2001, and Hill reluctantly accepted, knowing that the only way he was going to make the team was in the bullpen.