Knowing when to walk away from the game can be a tough decision for many players, and according to Jon Heyman it appears as though veteran left hander Randy Wolf has decided that now is the time to draw his career to a close. Wolf began his career way back in 1997 after being chosen in the second round out of Pepperdine University by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wolf made his big league debut for the Phillies in 1999 as a 22 year old and spent the next eight years as a fixture in their starting rotation. His finest season as a professional came in 2002, when he made 31 starts and pitched to a 3.20 ERA and 3.75 FIP in 210.2 innings. He struck out 172 batters against 63 walks and was worth 4.0 fWAR that season. Wolf made his lone career All-Star appearance the next season in 2003. Injuries marred the remainder of his tenure in Philadelphia, including Tommy John surgery in 2005, and he left via free agency following the 2006 season.
Wolf bounced around with the Dodgers, Padres, and Astros over the next three seasons. After he posted a 3.23 ERA in 214.1 innings 2009, the first attempt I ever made at sports writing was a piece opining that the Brewers should sign Wolf on the now-defunct blog site SportsBubbler.com. On December 29th, 2009, I got my wish as Milwaukee inked the then-33 year old to a three-year, $29.75 mil deal.
Randy was a middling performer during his first season in Milwaukee, posting a 4.17 ERA and 4.85 FIP in 34 starts covering 215.2 innings in 2010, accruing just 0.8 fWAR. Things improved in the Brewers' Glory Year of 2011, however, as Wolf contributed a solid 2.2 fWAR for a rotation that included Greinke, Gallardo, and Marcum. Wolf was the winning pitcher in 13 games and posted a 3.69 ERA for a team that won a franchise-best 96 games and captured the NL Central division crown.
Perhaps the highlight of Wolf's career came on October 13th, 2011. He was called upon to pitch against Kyle Lohse and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium for game four of the NLCS. Wolf held the Cardinals to just two runs (on solo homers by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig) on six hits and one walk across seven innings. He struck out six Cardinals, hit a double in the third inning, and was awarded the win, the only winning playoff decision he ever earned during his lengthy career. The Brewers, of course, would eventually lose the series in six games as the Cardinals went on to capture the championship.
Unfortunately for Wolf, 2011 wound up being the last productive season of his career. His tenure in Milwaukee ended on a sour note as he posted a 5.69 ERA in 142.1 innings before being designated for assignment and eventually released on August 22nd, 2012. He caught on with the Orioles to finish that season but was similarly ineffective. He wound up undergoing Tommy John surgery in October of 2012 and missed the entire 2013 season.
Wolf returned to the mound for the 2014 season and appeared in 14 games in the majors for the Marlins and Tigers during 2014-15. That does little to illustrate just how much he bounced around during that time, however, as he also was a member of the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Angels, and Blue Jays organizations at various points in the last two seasons.
Now 39 years of age, Randy Wolf finishes his career with a 133-125 win/loss record in 390 games (379 starts) across his parts of 16 seasons in the major leagues. He pitched a total of 2328.1 innings, posting a 4.24 ERA and 4.38 FIP to go along with 1,814 strikeouts against 831 walks and with a 39.1% ground ball rate. While with the Brewers, he posted 29-32 record and 3.7 fWAR in 92 starts with a 4.37 ERA. Fangraphs rates him as worth 27.8 Wins Above Replacement during his extended time in The Show and he took home more than $70 mil in salary. BCB wishes him the best of luck in his future endeavors.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs