With a career that outlasted (in quality, if not quantity) the other members of Oakland's Big Three, Tim Hudson has finally called it a career after 17 seasons, over 3100 innings, and 222 career wins (if you're into that sort of thing). In honor of his retirement, and to look back at his long, successful career, let's relive the 16 years of BP Annual comments about him, as he grew from surprising Rookie of the Year candidate to a consistently above-average and underrated pitcher in his 30's.

Year Comment
2015 If you ever doubt that there's a silver lining to every cloud, Hudson's year might change your mind. The old man sustained a gruesome ankle injury in July 2013 that threatened his career, but it also depressed his value enough to tempt the Giants, who were searching for affordable mid-rotation arms. The weakened ankle prevented Hudson from pushing off the rubber as forcefully as he once did, but that kept his mechanics in check such that he walked only two batters in 45 2/3 April innings. A bum hip dogged Hudson throughout September, but he contributed to victories in the Division and Championship Series. Then, as the oldest pitcher to start Game Seven of the World Series, Hudson departed without finishing the second inning, which helped get his new best friend, Madison Bumgarner, into the game, and you know the rest. Hudson will turn 40 during the coming year, but throwing strikes and coaxing grounders are skills that age well, and the old man should remain a useful starter in what he says will be his last year.
2014 Hudson's season ended in late July when he fractured his ankle in an ugly bang-bang play at first base. The play seemed at the time to be an unfair ending to an otherwise outstanding career, but that fear appears to have been premature as Hudson signed a two-year deal with San Francisco. Long known for his clubhouse leadership and ability to prevent runs well above the level of his mundane peripherals, there’s no reason to think Hudson won’t continue to thrive in his new surroundings. At some point Father Time will have his say, but Hudson’s age may well reach the big four-oh before his ERA does.
2013 Hudson failed to record 200 innings for the first time since 2009. He missed most of April while recovering from offseason back surgery to correct a herniated disc. When Hudson returned, he proved his five-pitch mix remains effective. He fills up the bottom of the zone on both sides of the plate, putting on a clinic in how to sequence and keep batters guessing. Hudson turns 38 in July and is under contract for one more season. There’s no telling how long he wants to pitch, but it would be a surprise if he finishes his career outside of Atlanta.
2012 Believe it or not, Hudson has now tallied more innings with the Braves than the Athletics. That Hudson has pitched back-to-back 200-plus inning seasons after recovering from August 2008 Tommy John surgery is a testament to the advances of modern medicine. A testament to the advances of Hudson is that he has made 10 or more starts in 12 big league seasons and recorded quality starts in 70 percent or higher in seven of those campaigns. With Derek Lowe exiled to Cleveland, Hudson becomes the only graybeard on an increasingly cherub-faced staff, and Atlanta will depend on him for leadership, stability, and everything else that lonely old pitchers provide to young rotations on contending teams.
2011 The Braves saw enough of Hudson in his 2009 return from Tommy John surgery to give him a three-year extension, and he turned out to be worth far more than the $9 million he was paid, turning in a season worthy of his glory years from the previous decade. That said, he's a far different pitcher from the one he was in his Oakland days. He lacks the strikeout rate one normally expects from an ace, but the results have been there thanks to a career-best, major league-leading ground-ball rate generated by a power sinker that has has gone from being just part of his arsenal to the main attraction. It will be difficult for Hudson to be consistent at such a high level while striking out only 5.5 batters per nine innings, but even if he regresses a bit, he will still be a bargain.
2010 Hudson is an interesting case to deal with. He came back from Tommy John surgery at the end of the year and pitched well on paper, but a look at the game logs shows a pitcher who put up good lines against bad teams and vice versa. The Braves turned down his $12 million option for 2010, but because Hudson is a Georgia native who enjoyed pitching in Atlanta, the two sides worked out a three-year extension for $28 million instead. Hudson's stuff was still there at the end of the year, and the hope is that as he gets further away from the surgery, his location will return as well.
2009 Hudson was cruising along having another typically solid season when, six shutout innings and 68 pitches into a late-July start against the Marlins, his elbow unexpectedly went sproing! A couple of weeks later, he was having Tommy John surgery. Hudson hopes to return in August and pitch well enough to convince the Braves to pick up his $12 million mutual option for 2010.
2008 He was as good last year as he's been since his rookie season, for the first time resembling the pitcher the Braves traded for three years ago, the one who didn't walk people or give up homers. Lacking the stuff he entered the league with, Hudson has to limit those two elements to succeed. Healthy in 2007, he did just that, and you can expect more of the same this year.
2007 Hudson finally pitched a full season again, avoiding the various aches and pains that cost him four or five starts in each of the previous two years, but the results were the worst of his career. Outside of a solid stretch in May (2.79 ERA in 48 1/3 innings), batters found Hudson to their liking all season long. Lefties batted .281/.353/.491 against him, and he was particularly vulnerable away from the pitcher-lovin` Ted. The collapse could have been expected; in 2005, Hudson stranded almost 80 percent of his baserunners. That was unlikely to happen again; the NL average over the last three seasons has been 69 percent. Indeed, Hudson stranded just 65 percent of his runners in 2006. Hudson is signed through 2009 and his contract is backloaded—he`ll have made a total of just $10 million between last year and this, but in 2008 his salary jumps to $13 million. You can bet that the Braves will work hard to get another team to grab the fat end of Hudson`s balloon.
2006 The Braves acquired Hudson from Oakland last winter in a deal that cost them their top pitching prospect, Dan Meyer. Hudson`s declining strikeout rate, rising salary, impending free agency, and the concern that injury might curtail his use of the splitter played into Oakland`s reasons for dealing him. While his performance was still solid, he missed a month with a strained oblique, his home run rate more than doubled, and his command suffered. Hudson actually threw the splitter more often than in 2004, but seldom to right-handed batters. Signed to a four-year, $47 million extension last spring, he`s still a very good pitcher, but the Braves are paying him to be a great one.
2005 You know people are finding reasons to complain when there's grousing that Hudson might be too athletic, too good at trying to be a fifth infielder, too likely to wear himself out doing the parts of his job beyond pitching. Still, those are qualities the Braves like in their pitchers; Maddux and Glavine were always good in every phase of the game, and Hampton does everything well (except pitch). There are whispers that Huddy's splitter won't be going with him to Atlanta due to injury, which might be a non-financial reason for the deal, and for the precipitous drop in his strikeout rate. If so, it'll make for an interesting problem for Mr. Mazzone.
2004 Yes, his strikeout rate has dipped. Yes, he's thrown an awful lot of innings. But consider this: His control's consistently improved since he's reached the majors, to the point now where he's among the stingiest pitchers in baseball in terms of the free pass, in addition to being tough to hit. How has he managed to mitigate the damage from that declining K rate? Why, with the help of his buddy Eric Chavez, of course. Hudson's allowed less than half as many fly balls as ground balls, and ground balls don't fly out of the park. One of the best three or four pitchers in the American League, and fully capable of running off five or six years of Greg Madduxness from 2004-2009 or so.
2003 Hudson was great all year except in May, when he was collectively lit up by the AL East. His K rate hasn’t been what it was in 2000–2001, which is a cause for some concern, but he is keeping his GB/FB ratio up above 2. He’s a good bet to continue to be among the best pitchers in the game, but there is some mileage there, and lefties do hit him pretty hard—.283/.334/.448 in 2002.
2002 Hudson’s workload got a bit heavy in terms of innings, but Howe did a good job throughout the year of protecting his arm. Hudson is the ace of the staff, throwing nasty forkballs and keeping hitters off stride with some wicked changes of speed. His strikeout rate dropped just a bit last year; it'd be nice to see that trendline go a different direction in 2002. He's very reminscent of Dave Stewart on the mound.
2001 Tim Hudson changes speeds aggressively and well, his sinker moves, and his forkball drops on batters like an anvil on Wile E. Coyote. The key is that his release point is almost identical for every pitch, making it incredibly difficult for hitters to figure out what’s coming. Here’s a benefit of a potent offense: the A’s went 17-0 when Hudson gave them six or more innings and allowed three runs or fewer. Hudson isn’t the best prospect among good young pitchers, but he may have the best future, considering the care with which he’s been managed and the support he’ll get from the offense.
2000 We told you to watch out for him last year, but nobody could have expected him to be this good this fast. His assortment is dynamite, from the darting, moving sinker to a good forkball, a nice changeup and a slider he mixes in for show. For a strikeout pitcher, he's economical with his pitches, and Howe deserves credit for not overworking him. Perhaps the most basic thing he gave the A's was the ability to go beat Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez behind a good pitching performance.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe