Kevin Appier Was One of Baseball's Most Consistent Pitchers
By CRAIG MUDER
December 11, 2009
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Kevin Appier spent most of his big league career with the Kansas City Royals, so his national profile remained small throughout his time in the majors.
His baseball profile, however, remained well known – thanks to a strong worth ethic and dogged determination on the mound.
|Kevin Appier is one of 26 players on the BBWAA ballot for the Class of 2010 at the Baseball Hall of Fame.|
Appier is one of 26 players on the 2010 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2010 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Appier is making his debut on the BBWAA ballot.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 6. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 25 in Cooperstown.
Appier, born Dec. 6, 1967 in Lancaster, Calif., began his 16-year big league career on June 4, 1989, with the Royals. He struggled to a 1-4 record that season, but rebounded in 1990 by winning a spot in the Royals’ rotation en route to a 12-8 record and 2.76 earned-run average – good enough for a third-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Over the next seven seasons, Appier became one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers – and the subject of frequent trade rumors as the Royals entered a rebuilding phase. From 1991-97, Appier averaged 13 wins per season – including a career-high 18 victories in 1993, a year in which he led the AL in earned-run average with a mark of 2.56. He was named to the American League All-Star Game in 1995, and pitched two scoreless innings in that Mid-Summer Classic.
But a shoulder injury sidelined him for almost all of the 1998 season, and when he returned in 1999 the Royals traded him to Oakland in a stretch-drive deal.
Appier helped the A’s win the AL West the following year and made his postseason debut in Oakland’s loss to the Yankees in the Division Series. He signed as a free agent with the Mets after that season, going 11-10 with a 3.54 ERA in 2001 in his only National League season.
That winter, the Mets traded Appier to the Angels for Mo Vaughn. And with the Angels in 2002, Appier finally found a team equal to his determination. Appier made 37 starts – including five in the postseason – en route to 14 wins. He did not pick up a postseason victory, but started Game 6 of the World Series against San Francisco – helping keep the Giants in check until his teammates rallied for a 6-5 win that evened the Fall Classic at three games apiece.
One day later, the Angels wrapped up the title.
Appier was released by the Angels in the summer of 2003 – a shocking move considering he was owed $15.7 million by the team. He quickly returned to the Royals, helping Kansas City to a surprising late-season push for the playoffs.
“He will fit in good with this ballclub,” said then-Royals manager Tony Pena. “Because he’s a fighter.”
An elbow injury cut short his 2004 season, and he retired on March 29, 2005, after the Royals released him. He returned to pitch briefly for the Mariners’ Triple-A team in 2006, but retired again before the summer was over.
For his career, Appier was 169-137 with a 3.74 ERA.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.