Kaat’s career a study in consistency
Lefty workhorse a Veterans Committee finalist at Baseball Hall of Fame
He was also one of the most effective pitchers of the last 50 years and now will be considered for the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
Kaat, born on Nov. 7, 1938, played for the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1959-73), Chicago White Sox (1973-75), Philadelphia Phillies (1976-79), New York Yankees (1979-80) and St. Louis Cardinals (1980-83). A 6-foot-4 lefty with great athletic ability, Kaat pitched 25 seasons in the Majors and posted a 283-237 record with a 3.45 ERA and 2,461 strikeouts.
Kaat’s best season was in 1966, when he won a league-leading 25 games with 19 complete games, three shutouts, a 2.75 ERA and just 55 walks in more than 300 innings. The Sporting News named him American League Pitcher of the Year. His other top seasons were 1972, when he went 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in a season shortened due to a broken hand, and 1974-75 with the White Sox, when he won 21 and 20 games.
A three-time All-Star (1962, ’66, ’75), Kaat also won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1962 to ’77. He pitched in the postseason four times, winning a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 1982.
Kaat was the last original Washington Senators player to retire. Not only did Kaat log 200-plus innings 14 times (including 300-plus twice), but he had 180 complete games, including nine seasons with 10 or more.
Kaat will be considered for the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee as part of the post-1942 ballot (players who began their careers in 1943 and after). The other members of the post-1942 Veterans Committee final ballot are Dick Allen, Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Ron Santo, Luis Tiant, Joe Torre and Maury Wills. Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans Committee, which consists of the 64 living Hall of Famers, will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2009.
Results from the Veterans Committee vote will be announced Dec. 8 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. (H/T National Baseball Hall of Fame.org)
As I said earlier, I hope he is elected in the Hall, and not just because he was part of the mid-70s Phillies’ team that won three straight NL Eastern Division pennants, but because he was a good pitcher he was a good pitcher who was also a good fielder. (Hey, he did win all of those Gold Glove Awards, remember?) Good, luck, Kaat, hope you get the call next month.