Catching Up on Career Obituaries

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the Career Obituaries page, and since my last update we have seen several major leaguers play in their final games. Some of them, like Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, we knew were coming. But other players, like Yankees starter Andy Pettitte and Colorado Rockies legend Todd Helton gave late-season announcements about their plans to retire. Below is our special Seeds All Day styled tribute to the careers of those MLB mainstays who have hung ’em up this year. These guys will also be added to the Career Obituaries page, where they will remain enshrined as part of the 2013 class of honorees. If you can think of any players who have stepped away from the game this year that I have omitted, let me know in the comments.

RP Mariano Rivera
1990 (international free agent) – September 26, 2013
Career spanned 19 seasons, all with the Yankees organization. A failed starter converted to reliever, was named New York’s closer in 1997 and immediately became one of the best in baseball. Dominated hitters for more than 15 years relying primarily on a single pitch – a mid-90 mph cut fastball – that is arguably one of the best single pitches in baseball history. A 13-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion. Holds the record for most career saves (652), most career postseason saves (42), and lowest career postseason ERA (0.70) among numerous others. Was the last player to wear number 42, which was retired throughout baseball to honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson while Rivera was still playing. Is arguably the best closer to have ever played the game.
SP Andy Pettitte
May 25, 1991 (22nd round) – September 22, 2013
Played 18 seasons in the MLB, most of them with the New York Yankees. Is the only player in baseball history to pitch at least 18 seasons while never having a losing record. Won five World Series championships and is baseball’s all-time postseason wins leader with 19 career playoff victories. Made his major league debut in 1995 and finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Led the AL with 21 wins in 1996 and finished second in AL Cy Young voting. Won at least 12 games in each of his first nine season with the Yankees before playing three seasons for the Houston Astros. Won the ALCS MVP in 2001. Retired in 2010, but returned to the Yankees in 2011 and helped guide the team to a championship. Among Yankees pitchers, Pettitte ranks first in strikeouts (2,020), third in wins (219), and tied for first in games started (438). He won the most games of any pitcher in the 2000s. In 2007, admitted to using human growth hormone to recover from an injury during the 2002 season.
1B Todd Helton
August 1, 1995 (1st round) – September 29, 2013
The eighth overall pick in the 1995 MLB draft, spent his entire 17-year career with the Colorado Rockies. Five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger award winner and three-time Gold Glove award winner. He holds the Rockies club records for most hits (2,519), home runs (369), doubles (592), walks (1,335), runs scored (1,401), RBIs (1,406), games played (2,247) and total bases (4,292), among other records. Many analysts accuse him of inflated numbers because he played his home games in hitter-friendly Coors Field, but statistics show that Helton was just as successful on the road as he was at home. Won the 2000 batting title after posting a .372 batting average. His average away from Coors Field that year was .354. In 2001, hit a career-high 49 home runs, 22 of which he hit on the road. Was diagnosed with a degenerative back condition in 2008, after which his power numbers began to steeply decline. Is the only player in MLB history to have back-to-back 100+ extra-base hit seasons (103 in 2000 and 105 in 2001).
brad lidge
RP Brad Lidge
June 2, 1998 (1st round) – December 2, 2012
The 17th overall pick in the 1998 MLB draft. Made his major league debut in 2002 as a middle reliever for the Houston Astros before becoming the club’s closer in 2004. That year, he set an NL record for strikeouts by a reliever with 157. Infamously gave up a three-run home run to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the NLCS. After a few years of struggle, he bounced back and sealed the 2008 World Series title for the Philadelphia Phillies with a strikeout of Eric Hinske of the Rays. He is the all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings (12.2 K/9) among pitchers with at least 200 appearances in their career. Struck out 799 total batters and notched 225 career saves.
SP Ted Lilly
June 4, 1996 (23rd round) – November 27, 2013
Drafted by the L.A. Dodgers in 1996, made his major league debut with the Montreal Expos in 1999, and made his final start for the L.A. Dodgers on June 4, 2013 – 17 years to the day after the club had drafted him. Finished with a career record of 130-113, an earned run average of 4.14 and 1,681 strikeouts. Started two games for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. On June 13, 2010 he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox before giving up a leadoff single to Juan Pierre. Also pitched for the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs.

About Matthew George

Matthew George graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He spent three years writing sports for the Kentucky Kernel, the university's daily paper, and served as assistant sports editor. After undergrad, Matthew attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University where he earned his juris doctorate. He is now admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana.

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