The most recent decade saw Tony Cingrani put up a season that was just head and shoulders above that of anyone else in the organization. Much like the 2010-2019 stretch, the 2000-2009 stretch saw one season, that at least for me, was far and away an easy choice for top season of the decade. That season was from another left-handed pitcher, as Travis Wood just dominated during the 2009 season between Double-A and Triple-A.
Drafted in 2005 by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round, Travis Wood was incredible in his first season, posting a 1.29 ERA in 48.2 innings with just 28 hits allowed and striking out 67 in his debut between the GCL Reds and Billings Mustangs. The next year in Dayton was a good one as he posted a 3.66 ERA in 140.0 innings. But he struggled the next two seasons, posting ERA’s of 4.86 and 5.47.
But when 2009 began, things started clicking for Travis Wood once again. The Reds sent the 22-year-old to Double-A Carolina to play for their new affiliate in Zebulon, North Carolina – the Mudcats. In April, Wood held hitters to a .149/.284/.203 line with a 0.83 ERA. That was followed up by a May where he made another six starts, holding hitters to a .241/.327/.346 line that resulted in a 1.93 ERA.
Through May he had only allowed more than one earned run in three of his 10 starts – and all three of those starts were 2-earned run outings. June started with three straight dominant starts for the lefty, as Wood tossed 22.0 shutout innings with just seven hits allowed, two walks, and he picked up 26 strikeouts along the way. On June 18th he would finally allow more than two earned runs in a start – giving up three against Tennessee in what was his 14th outing of the year. Over the next five starts, spanning a month, he allowed just three total earned runs in 33.0 innings. That finally earned him a promotion to Triple-A Louisville after 19 starts and a 1.21 ERA in the Southern League.
When Travis Wood reached Louisville there were just five weeks remaining in the season. He would make eight starts. Five of those starts saw him allow two or fewer earned runs. But he gave up a season worst five earned runs in one start, and another start featured four earned runs – both games were the worst of his season. With the Bats, his ERA was a strong 3.14 across his 48.2 innings pitched. In his 27 games between the two levels he would finish with a 1.77 ERA in 167.2 innings. Opposing hitters managed just a .204/.275/.292 line against him with 53 walks and 135 strikeouts.
Stacking up with the contenders
As we talked about at the start of the article, there really wasn’t much competition for which season would get the nod for this decade. That was more about just how good Travis Wood’s 2009 season was. But here were the other contenders.
When we look at ERA+ there was one season that had a big advantage over that of Travis Wood’s 2009. Juan Frias posted a 277 ERA+ back in 2002 between Billings and Dayton. The reason that it didn’t really get much consideration over Wood’s season was that he dominated in Billings as a 22-year-old, posting a 0.96 ERA in 65.2 innings, but when he was in Dayton he posted a 4.43 ERA in 63.0 innings. His dominance was only at one level, and it was at a level he was a bit old for, too.
With everyone else – no one really got close to matching what Wood was able to do with regards to preventing runs compared to their level. Wood’s 261 ERA+ was far and away better than the next best mark on the list – Jim Paduch’s 232 in 2003 for Billings, and that came in less than half as many innings that Wood threw.
Here are the other winners for Season of the Decade:
|2010’s||Devin Mesoraco||Tony Cingrani||Donnie Joseph|
|2000’s||Adam Dunn||Travis Wood||Robert Manuel|
|1990’s||Jason LaRue||Curt Lyons||Victor Garcia|
|1980’s||Danny Tartabull||Mike Dowless||Clem Freeman|
|1970’s||Gary Redus||Keefe Cato|