This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Kevin Millwood’s career has had many highlights throughout fifteen years and counting at the Major League level. For the Christmas Eve Baseball Digest Birthday celebrated today, it’s fitting that we feature a player that has provided ‘gifts’ again and again throughout his career.
Drafted out of high school in the 11th round of the 1993 Amateur Draft by the Atlanta Braves, Millwood became a mainstay in the major leagues by 1998. In his first two seasons he won 17 and 18 games respectively, quickly earning his own reputation in a rotation behind Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. He anchored what was widely considered one of the best rotations in all of baseball.
In a March 2000 issue of Baseball Digest, Jerry Beach wrote an article centered on Kevin Millwood’s rise to elite status. Click here to check it out!
Though Millwood struggled to hold his dominance over the National League following his 18 win 1999 season, he rebounded by 2002 to win 18 games once again. His strong season helped push the Braves into the postseason, only to be eliminated from the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. He pitched twice in the series, including in the deciding game, losing 3-1.
2002 marked the end of Millwood’s tenure in Atlanta, when he was traded with catcher Johnny Estrada to the Philadelphia Phillies. Though he went just 23-18 with the Phillies in two seasons, his first season included three shut outs. On April 27, 2003 Kevin Millwood joined an exclusive group of pitchers when he threw his only career no-hitter. There have been 269 no hitters thrown in Major League Baseball History.
Following the 2004 season, Millwood signed a one year deal with the Cleveland Indians. Despite a 9-11 record, he snagged his only ERA title in the American League. During the off season, he signed a five year deal with $60 Million with the Texas Rangers. Though he won 48 games in four seasons in Texas, including 16 wins in first year, his ERA suffered greatly. Before the fifth and final year of his contract, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Chris Ray and a Player To Be Named Later.
Millwood’s 2010 season went in a very different direction than his previous years. Instead of leading his team in wins and the league in ERA, Millwood led the league in losses and had the highest ERA of any starter on the Orioles with more than 30 starts on the season.
A free agent this off-season, the 6’4 righty has been mentioned as a possible target by the Kansas City Royals. The veteran pitcher has shown throughout his career to have an ability to bounce back from difficult seasons before, and could provide a spark for a team like the Royals who just traded their ace in Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:
Jamey Wright, born on December 24th, 1974, has spent the last 15 seasons in the big leagues with eight teams. An 83-118 career Win-Loss record goes along with a career 5.00 Earned Run Average. He ranks 30th all time in hit batsmen.
John D’Acquisto, born in 1951, logged ten seasons with eight teams. He had a 34-51 Win-Loss record with a 4.26 ERA. He may be more famously remembered for his post-career as an investment banker who was wrongly accused of fraud, apparently set up by other investors.
Frank Tavares, born in 1949, played eleven seasons primarily with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets. He was a member of the 1974-1975 Pirates teams that reached the National League Championship Series. He also led the National League with 70 stolen bases. He retired with an even 300 stolen bases.