In 2003, Brandon Webb threw his first pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks. By the end of the decade, he would become one of the greatest pitchers in the team’s history. Webb technically played for seven seasons from 2003 to 2009 (although the seventh and final one in 2009 he only played one game), so it only took Webb six seasons to be considered an all-time great.
This will be a dive into the best numbers behind the brief, yet brilliant career of Brandon Webb with the Arizona Diamondbacks
The 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner. NL Cy Young runner-up in the following ’07 and ’08 seasons. NL Rookie of the Year finalist, and a three-time All-Star. How was Webb so efficient for the Arizona Diamondbacks?
With Curt Schilling at 36 years old and in his eventual last season win Arizona, a successor was needed. The good news is manager Bob Brenly had just that in Brandon Webb. At just 24 years old, in his rookie year, he went 10-9 with a fantastic 2.84 ERA over 180.2 innings, which was the second-most on the team behind Miguel Batista.
Surrendering just 12 home runs in that many innings resulted in a 0.6 HR per 9 innings. Keeping the ball in the park became a signature trait for Webb, as he averaged that same 0.6 HR per 9 innings for his entire career. Featuring one of the greatest 2-seam sinking fastballs of all time.
Even though Florida Marlins rookie Dontrelle Willis won the Rookie of the Year, Webb outpitched him in several categories. Webb had a lower ERA and WHIP, fewer hits and home runs surrendered and more strikeouts in just 20 more innings pitched.
Arizona as a team took a major step backwards in the following 2004 season, losing 111 games in comparison to the 85 games Arizona won the previous year. Webb however maintained his productivity, managing a 3.59 ERA over 208 innings. His record was an ugly 7-16. That could most certainly be placed on the overall team itself.
The next season (2005) saw further improvement from Webb, posting a lower ERA (3.54) over more innings (229) and a much improved 14-12 record.
Webb’s Cy Young Award-winning season was nothing short of magnificent. Despite Arizona finishing 10 games below .500., Brandon Webb won over two-thirds of the games he started, going 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA over 235 innings. His ability to be a workhorse innings eater got better and better as he went on, and it was only inevitable it seems that he would obtain a Cy Young Award.
Webb would finish runner up in the NL Cy Young Award voting to Jake Peavy in 2007. However, Webb still managed to post a lower ERA (3.01) over more innings (236.1) than the previous year in which he won the award. Webb also won two more games than he did in 2006 as well.
In 2008, Webb would set a career high in wins with a dominating 22-7 record with a 3.30 ERA to boot. Despite the league-leading 22 wins and another respectable ERA, Webb would again finish runner up in the Cy Young Award voting, this time to San Francisco’s 24-year-old Tim Lincecum
He would start one game in 2009, surrendering and uncharacteristic two homers in four innings. That would be the last time Webb would take the mound for the Diamondbacks and in Major League Baseball itself. By 29 years old, he would announce his retirement.
In the career lifespans of the highest talents in the history of the game, Webb’s was a snap of the finger in comparison. Seemingly overnight, he became Arizona’s golden boy and quickly respected throughout the league. While we would all love to have watched Webb pitch forever, what we can do is never forget just how good Webb was.