Blue Jays reliever LaTroy Hawkins may not have enjoyed as glorious a final lap as Derek Jeter did in 2014, however Hawkins had a long and effective MLB career, pitching in well over 1000 MLB games, a feat only done 16 times. (Hawkins is 10th on that list). Hawkins was drafted right out high school in 1991. Before the birth of teammate Roberto Osuna and before the iPod, Hawkins was probably raving about the sequel to Terminator at the time! Hawkins would be drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1991 draft, picked 180th overall, and played the first four years of his career in the minors.
Hawkins made his debut start in 1995 and made 6 starts that season, finishing with a 8.67ERA. Hawkins, in 1998 and 1999, would solidify his position in the Twins starting rotation, starting in thirty-three games in both seasons, pitching to some scary bad numbers. He posted a 5.95ERA, struggling to keep the ball on the right side of the wall, giving up 56 combined homers in those seasons, and giving up a homer in 86% of games he started in.
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In 2000 Hawkins would make the move into the bullpen, showing glimpses of good play. Posting a ERA of 3.39, Hawkins would show his worth over the next few years for the Twins in that relief role. Hawkins’ inconsistent play, and his inability to stay on the Major League Roster, showed that his time in Minnesota had stretched it’s course. After 12 years within the Twins system, Hawkins was a free agent, signing with the Chicago Cubs in 2004 with a 3yr/11 million dollar contract, to take over the eighth inning spot.
It would seem the inconsistent play that plagued Hawkins time in Minnesota, would continue to follow him wherever he went. Chicago would trade Hawkins in the 2005 season, in what seemed to be the beginning of an onslaught of Hawkins being involved in trades, signing one year contracts, and designations for assignment. Stamping his Major League passport with 10 teams, (Colorado twice) until finding himself on the Blue Jays, for the second half of the 2015 season.
When the Blue Jays made their big trade deadline moves, addressing the quality of the bullpen was something everyone knew needed to happen. In a shocking trade, Jose Reyes was sent to the Colorado Rockies for All-Star Short Stop Troy Tulowitzki. Hawkins would be thrown into the blockbuster trade, helping the Blue Jays add another arm to the bullpen. The bullpen was addressed more later, with the trade deadline addition of Mark Lowe and Aaron Sanchez returning from injury. Hawkins would add a veteran presence in the bullpen, mentoring youngsters like Sanchez and Osuna.
In his brief 16.1 innings with Toronto, Hawkins would actually go out on a high note. Going 1-0, with one save, four holds, only allowing one home run, striking out 16 to an ERA of 2.76. Although Hawkins may not have been in Toronto long, his addition in the bullpen added another steady arm to some good results, mentoring the younger pitchers in the Toronto bullpen. The best personal accomplishment that Hawkins made this year is simple, it’s always nice to see a journeyman like Hawkins go out of his 20 plus year career in the MLB in style.
Like most relievers, Hawkins did have his hiccups during the regular season, posting a few bad innings here and there. The majority of his bad play would show up in the playoffs, pitching in three games, pitching 1.2+ innings and posting a 37.80ERA…. The inability to show up when it mattered really put a sour ending on LaTroy’s season. The decision to use Hawkins sometimes was questionable, as Gibbons’ trust in some of his other bullpen’s arms like Liam Hendriks and leaving Aaron Sanchez in for longer lengths of time were similar to Alanis Morissette’s trust issues in the mid 90’s.
Well, it’s all over for Hawkins! If you follow Hawkins on Instagram, you can see that he’s well into enjoying retirement, hanging out with good friend and another newly retired Tori Hunter, hunting ducks, and showing off some classic cars. As for the Blue Jays, this is a bullpen spot they will need to fill entering next season. Without knowing clearly where newly acquired Jesse Chavez fits in with the pitching staff, or where the placement of Sanchez, Osuna, or Drew Hutchinson will still need to understand the direction of the pitching staff under the new management regime. Maybe the signing of a starting pitcher or reliever will fill that hole, or the promotion of Ryan Tepera or Pat Venditte. Only future acquisitions and Spring Training will tell us who will replace the seemingly depleted pitching staff.
Stats Provided by Fangraphs