Los Angeles Dodgers: The journeyman that is Rich Hill

May 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill (44) reacts at the end of the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during a MLB baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill (44) reacts at the end of the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during a MLB baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Rich Hill is the perfect example of a journeyman in today’s MLB. Not many know about the unorthodox career path that the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher has undergone.

Rich Hill: 37-year-old man, left-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, master of curveballs, blisters, and arm angles, journeyman.

Every so often the sports realm that we are so often immersed in introduces us to the perfect story. Through the roller coaster that is their career us, the fans, ride along through the trials and tribulations that lead them to their ultimate success.

This is what Hollywood is made for. This is the unorthodox, unnatural, unexpected path of life that leads to so much hope in our world. Talent can only get you so far, hard work and dedication can get you anywhere. Sometimes we need someone to look up to that isn’t  naturally gifted with size, speed, and athleticism just to show us that anyone can make it.

Rich Hill is not a freakish athlete, he is not fast, he is not extremely muscular, he isn’t even all that athletic. Standing in a six-foot-five and 220 pounds if anything he is just tall, thin, and lanky. He does not throw in the high nineties, he was not a Baseball America top prospect. He was, quite simply, just Rich Hill; the guy that knew how to throw a curveball.

Hill was drafted three times in his baseball career. First in the 36th round by the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, second in the 7th round by the Anaheim Angels in 2001, and finally in the fourth round by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round in 2004.

Throughout his sixteen year Rich Hill has bounced in and out of the minor leagues. Overall, his numbers have been good, not great. In 752.2 innings pitched Hill has posted a 3.49 ERA, a 49-42 record, and 974 strikeouts.

In fact, Hill has thrown more in the farm than he has in the big leagues. Hill has thrown 636.1 innings in the majors, over 100 less than the minors, compiling a 4.10 ERA, 40-30 record, and 642.

It is obvious, Hill’s career has not been that great. In only the third start of his career, he was rocked for seven earned runs in 1.1 innings. Hill finished that season with a 9.13 ERA.

Fast forward to 2007. Rich Hill threw 195 innings, finished with an 11-8 record, and came home with a 3.92 ERA in 32 starts. While not fantastic, these numbers were welcoming after Hill had thrown just 123 innings combined the previous two seasons.

Hill threw fewer innings than that in the next seven seasons combined. He only had one season in which he threw more than 40 innings (2009), and seemed to be done in the majors. Hill even played in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball as recently as 2015, signaling what should have been the end of a mediocre career.

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However, Hill then reinvented himself. He took what he knew best, the curveball, and mastered it to his advantage. Instead of trying to throw harder than other guys, Hill changed his arm angle with every pitch, leaving the opposition on their heels.

2016 was great for Rich Hill. In 14 starts he pitched to a 2.25 ERA, earning him a trade to the contending Los Angeles Dodgers to contend for a ring. Then, in what seemed to be a story too good for Hollywood, Rich Hill shut out the eventual champion Chicago Cubs in game three of the NLCS.

The Dodgers went on to lose that series, with Hill not receiving another chance to take the mound. However, he was granted a gracious three-year, $48 million contract.

Many think Rich Hill is overpaid, that the Los Angeles Dodgers should not have paid him that much. Those people have a point, Hill is constantly injured with blisters, only throwing 26 innings this season with a lackluster 4.10 ERA.

However, when blisters are not bugging Hill, he has proven to be masterful for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Regardless of his performance now, Rich Hill was never supposed to make it. He was never supposed to shut out the eventual champions in the NLCS, and he was never supposed to be the number two option behind the best pitcher on the planet.

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Yet, Hill accomplished all of those feats, and the future is looking bright. He may not hit 500 foot home runs or throw 100 miles an hour. However, Rich Hill is one of baseball’s only true journeymen and should be looked to for inspiration by everyone.