Page views be damned, today it's important to celebrate Randy Wolf, which works as both a fantastic description of a normally intimidating animal and as a 39 year old starting pitcher. Just yesterday, Wolf was sold by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Detroit Tigers, for whom he will make at least a couple of starts. And that's fantastic, because despite the obvious differences, I see a lot of myself in Randy Wolf. And I see a lot of you.
Oh, I mean, he's much better than either of us, of course. In his career, Wolf has been pretty much the quintessential average pitcher. His career ERA+ is 100. He has struck out 18.2 and walked 8.3 percent of hitters while the league has struck out 17.7 and 8.5 percent. He allowed homers to 3.0 percent of the batters he faced, while the league allowed 2.7 percent. That's nothing terribly special in the Majors, but spread out over 15 years is pretty damn impressive. Like how M*A*S*H lasted 11 years without actually being all that funny.
Still, Wolf's definitely not the kind of guy you would expect to hang on until he is almost 40 and to whom teams would continue to give shots. After all, Wolf has made in excess of $68 million in his career. He's not hurting for money. And you would figure that teams could find better options at this point, given that Wolf has not been a productive pitcher since 2011, when he BABIPed his way into a 3.69 ERA for the Brewers.
But here's the thing: Randy Wolf loves playing baseball. He loves it enough to have fought back from Tommy John surgery twice. He loves it enough that he willingly stayed in Buffalo, New York long enough to make 23 starts. Either that or he hates his family. Either way, many of us can relate.
Is Wolf going to pitch well for the Tigers? Not that it matters for a team that will finish below .500, but probably not. After all, he struggled to limit homers in his last Major League exposure for the Marlins last year. I wouldn't put it past him though. He clearly doesn't think he's done, and he's supported by the fact that he's still reportedly throwing in the high 80s and low 90s, and by his 2.58 ERA in the International League. And if he can put together a couple nice starts, he'll almost certainly get a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training in 2016.
Randy Wolf is going to keep pitching until they tear that uniform off of him. And in that way, I think he's a lot like you and me think we would be as baseball players. It's virtually impossible for schlubs like us to picture ourselves as Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, otherworldly talents who dominate a game that we appreciate. It's much easier to identify with players like Wolf, who grind away year after year and refuse to quit. Were we in that spot, each one of us envisions that we'd be the same way. Randy Wolf is the pitcher for us, the common men and women of America. Join me in supporting his continued appearance in the Majors every five games. Do it for joy. Do it for whimsy. Do it because he is one of us, even though he really isn't.