Arizona Diamondbacks: the Daniel Hudson story

arizona diamondbacksLadies and gentleman, we’ve arrived at the worst part of the sports year. There have been no professional sporting events happening since Sunday, unless you count the dreadful MLB All-Star Game which was essentially three hours of Harold Reynolds spewing romantic poetry about Derek Jeter. I’m getting nauseated.

I sit here in a juror assembly room with about 200 other miserable people. After listening to this married guy hitting on the cute blonde next to me for an hour, I decided to browse Twitter to entertain myself. The first thing I came across was a picture of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson holding his newborn baby.

The picture made me smile and then think. What happened to Daniel Hudson? I’m not a Diamondbacks fan myself so I was not super familiar with the team in their 2011 playoff run. But I vaguely remember him being a part of it.

The other day, an isportsweb reader tweeted me asking about Daniel Hudson and his future in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation. I’ve pondered Hudson’s upcoming return before, but I was surprised I was getting asked about him. Many casual fans have already forgotten about him. When you hear about the Diamondbacks’ future rotation, you see names like Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Chase Anderson, and even a Lucas Harrell tossed around once in a while, but no Hudson.

Hudson should absolutely be mentioned when the Diamondbacks’ future plans are discussed. His numbers in 2010-2011 are eye-opening. He is only 27 years old and is under contract until 2017. How is a guy like Hudson not talked about more? Let’s examine his career.

He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of Old Dominion University. He made his major league debut just a year after being drafted and appeared in six games for the Sox and made two starts.

He began the 2010 season in the minors and was called up to the big leagues after Jake Peavy tore a lat muscle. He struggled in three starts for the Sox before being part of a trade package to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Edwin Jackson.

Hudson dominated for the remainder of the 2010 season. In 11 starts he went 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA. His ERA+ was 251, over double the league average. Some analysts justified the insane numbers by saying the league just hadn’t caught up to him yet. But his impressive minor league numbers showed otherwise.

Hudson had a breakout year in 2011. He made 33 starts, throwing 222 innings and three complete games. His ERA+ was a nice 113 and he won 16 games for the NL West Champion Diamondbacks. The above average pitching was nice, but Hudson accomplished something insanely awesome. He had a slash line of .277/.309/.369 and had an OPS+ of 84. His OPS was higher than over half of the Diamondbacks’ bench position players and he won he Silver Slugger award for pitchers, even though Zach Duke made a case that Hudson was not even the best hitting pitcher on that team. Could the 2011 Diamondbacks have the best hitting pitchers of all time? I’m already getting derailed too much in this article but it’s possible.

Hudson struggled in 2012 allowing over 12 hits per nine innings. He underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2012. He underwent another Tommy John after tearing his UCL in a rehab start in June 2013.

He became a free agent after the 2013 season and according to his agent, Andrew Lowenthal, he was “blown away” by the level of interest major league teams had in him. Hudson decided he wanted to return to the Diamondbacks and they gave him a minor league deal.

Since then, Hudson has been throwing off flat surfaces and has had bullpen sessions. In an story by Barry Bloom, Bloom reported that Hudson’s days as a starter may be over.

But don’t close the book on Hudson’s career yet. Manager Kirk Gibson said Hudson could return in the bullpen in 2014. He is likely to begin a rehab assignment in August and possibly make the major leagues when the rosters expand in September.

Mark Trumbo faced Hudson in a rehab outing in June. “He looked really sharp,” Trumbo said.”It jumped out of his hand. I hadn’t seen him before. I definitely went away with a lot of appreciation for the stuff he’s got.”

Hudson said the outing was pain free and that’s all he was hoping for. There is no sense in rushing Hudson back considering the Diamondbacks are out of contention and they can get by with the bullpen arms they currently have.

Hudson will contribute to the Diamondback’s in the near future. If he performs close to the way he did in 2010-2011 he will be a bargain for the Diamondbacks.

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    What an amazing talent. What an outstanding young man.