Realistically, for Brandon Webb, Wednesday’s news was probably less a matter of “if” and more a matter of “when,” as it appears Brandon Webb’s recurring shoulder injury will shut him down for the remainder of the season. This just adds to his depressing injury history, going back a mere two years:
May 14, 2011 Transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL (right shoulder surgery).
March 31, 2011 Right shoulder surgery, 15-day DL (retroactive to March 22).
November 2, 2010 Missed all 162 games (right shoulder surgery).
April 17, 2010 Transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL (right shoulder surgery).
April 4, 2010 Right shoulder surgery, early September.
April 12, 2009 Right shoulder injury, early September.
April 8, 2009 Right shoulder injury, day-to-day.
Webb’s swift collapse under the burden of injury serves as yet another reminder of the fragility of the athlete, and even more striking, the fragility of the pitcher. Webb was among the pitching elite ever since winning the 2006 Cy Young award, a season in which he posted a 7.0 WAR thanks to a 3.18 FIP and a similarly excellent 3.10 ERA. After posting two similarly excellent seasons in 2007 and 2008, it looked like the Diamondbacks had themselves one of the games’ most consistently great pitchers. That is, until opening day of the 2009 season, where Webb only managed four innings and would throw his last pitch in the Major Leagues to date.
There should be no doubt that Brandon Webb’s first six years were Hall of Fame quality. Never did his ERA rise above 3.59 in this time and only once did his FIP go above 4.00, and he averaged just under 220 innings pitched. Even if it wasn’t the flashiest performance — Webb only struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings — he was undoubtedly effective.
So effective, in fact, that there was an argument, perhaps, that he was the pitcher to start a franchise around. Only Johan Santana (an interesting case in his own right) and Roy Halladay compiled more wins above replacement from 2003 to 2008, and the difference between Webb and Santana, a mere three wins, is certainly small enough to leave room for debate. Throw in that Webb was only entering his age 30 season, the same age as Santana and two years younger than Halladay.
Of course, here we sit, with the smart money guessing we might have heard the last of Brandon Webb as a major league pitcher. Perhaps we see Webb take the John Smoltz path and return as a closer. Perhaps he works his way back into the majors as a starter next year. Right now, though, Brandon Webb is an afterthought, remembered for the career that could have been instead of the career that should have been and would have been, if not for a weak right shoulder.
Print This Post