44. Chris Hammond (4.9)
Chris Hammond was a 6’1″ left-handed starter from Atlanta, Georgia. In 1986, the Cincinnati Reds chose him in the sixth round of the amateur entry draft.
It took Hammond four seasons, but in 1990 he made his major league debut on a pitching staff with “Nasty Boys” Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, and Norm Charlton. He played three seasons with the club, going 14-19 with a 4.25 ERA and 133 K’s in 258 1/3 innings.
Just before the Florida Marlins began their inaugural season in 1993, the Reds sent Hammond to the Marlins for a PTBNL (Hector Carrasco). Hammond immediately joined the Marlins rotation as their number three starter. He made 32 starts, and led Florida with 11 wins, going 11-12 with a 4.66 ERA. He struck out 108 over 191 frames, and allowed 1.429 WHIP. He was also named the NL Pitcher of the Month in June, during which he won all six of his starts.
Following that first season, Hammond played the next three with the Marlins. In 13 starts in 1994, he posted a much-better 3.07 ERA while going 4-4 with a 1.391 WHIP. In 1995, he struck out 126 in 161 frames for a career-best 7.0 K/9. In 1996, he made his first tentative move to the bullpen, starting nine times and appearing in relief in 29 contests.
Granted free agency following the 1996 season, Hammond signed with the Boston Red Sox for 1997. After going 3-4 with a 5.92 ERA, he was released, signed by the Kansas City Royals, and again released prior to 1998 Spring Training. The Marlins said, “Why Not?”
They soon found out. Hammond started three times for Florida in May, and went 0-2 while giving up 20 hits and eight walks over 13 2/3 innings for a 2.049 WHIP. With his wife in the midst of a difficult pregnancy, Hammond decided to retire to spend time with his family.
But four years later, Hammond wanted to see if he had anything left in the tank. He did.
Hammond’s 2002 season was his best as a professional, and one of only three sub-1 ERA seasons’ in history. He went 7-2 for the Atlanta Braves as a reliever, with a 0.95 ERA and 63 K’s in 76 innings. He played another four seasons after that, with the New York Yankees, the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres, and the Reds.