Top 10 Blue Jays Relievers of All Time
7. Billy Koch
DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 28: Billy Koch of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at the Bobby Mattick Training Center on February 28, 2005 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Billy Koch
Billy Koch: fiery in every way except literally. Fiery fastball and fiery personality. It made him unpredictable both on and off the field. When Koch was able to channel that fire correctly it made him into one of the most imposing closers in baseball. When it wasn’t contained or directed properly, things got explosive.
Koch was a home grown success story being drafted first round (4th overall) by the Jays in 1996. Koch began his minor league career starting but there was never really any doubt what he was meant for. Koch got his chance in 1999 and capitalized on it, sticking with the team for the remainder of the year and seizing the closer’s job. This surprising debut got him into 7th place on the rookie of the year ballot. He one-upped himself the next year with a 2.63 ERA/3.36 FIP and a 1.8 WAR.
After another less successful season, Koch was traded to the Athletics and the Jays received a package in return that included Eric Hinske. Just over three years later, Koch’s career was in significant decline. He signed a tryout deal with the Jays. Heartwarming reunion right? Well, the Jays released Koch after 4 bad spring outings. Koch didn’t take it well let’s just say. He refused to sign with another team so the Jays would have to pay him every cent of the contract they had signed. He also showed up to a Jays game in Tampa Bay to heckle the Jays.
A rare and little understood disease called Morgellons may have also contributed to the early demise of Koch’s career.
Koch had a 3.57 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 7.31 K/9, 3.44 BB/9, 100 Saves and a 3.1 WAR in his Jays career. He had a gmLi of 1.65.
Koch is 9th in WARIP, 3rd in saves, 3rd in save %, 3rd in WPA, 3rd in SD/MD
What Koch is up to today is anyone’s guess. He last made news when was arrested in 2009 after an altercation with a neighbour.