Horacio Ramirez, a historical perspective
You may have thought to yourself “it must be hard, to be so bad for so long to compile a 7+ ERA and still get over 100 IP. I mean, either you’re bad enough at that point you’re chased from the game early no matter how many starts, or the team’s going to find someone better than you to stick in the rotation even if it’s, say, a parasite-infested mascot.” You’d be right!
There have been only 27 pitcher-seasons in baseball history who have, like Ramirez almost managed, pitched 100 innings with an ERA of over 7. One of them’s a Mariner! The last was Colby Lewis, Texas, 2003 – 7.30 in 127 IP (I think… it’s really late and I’m not sure if I’m using the right database, but I’ll fix this tomorrow if there are additions)
2000 and 2001 both brought three, and Texas boasts half of them.
Rob Bell, Texas, 2001, in his stint in Texas, post-trade: 7.18 in 105 IP
Andy Benes, St. Louis, 2001, 7.38, 107 IP
Scott Elarton, Houston, 2001, 7.14, 109 IP
Jason Johnson, Baltimore, 2000, 7.02, 107.6 IP
Darren Oliver, Texas, 2000, 7.42, 108 IP
Matt Perisho, Texas, 2000, 7.37, 105 ERA
Jeff Fassero’s 1999 is next, and then Doug (“Don’t read my horrible books”) Drabek’s 1998 round out the decade in debaclery.
HoRam among those guys: 2nd-best walk rate, by far the worst strikeout rate, and the best home run rate (though in fairness, Safeco… right). And there lies the really strange thing: you can come up with plausible reasons each of those other guys was in the rotation, and why the team kept running them out there, but you can directly see that as a group, the other worst pitcher-seasons in the sample all contained substantially greater reason for hope than Ramirez did. The average other-guy strikeout rate was 5.87, which is not far off the league average. These guys, even while getting rocked for home runs (Andy Benes in 2001, 2.5 HR/9 IP) and struggling with walks (Matt Perisho was at 5.7 BB/9 IP) were getting batters to swing and miss. Only three of them (Bell, Drabek, Oliver) weren’t getting six K/9 IP.
There’s been no good reason to believe that Horacio Ramirez was, was becoming, or could be a major league starter, and the team’s inability to recognize that he didn’t belong in a major league rotation was so huge as to produce historic, embarrassing results.