Herbie the Love (Injury) Bug
Beep Beep! Move on over to let the top #53 pass on through, Paul Kenneth Shuey. The Lima, OH native, moved to North Carolina when he was 10. Shuey didn’t get any MLB bites in the draft after graduating from Millbrook High in Raleigh, so he became a Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina. He had an acclaimed career at UNC, freshman All-American, and leading the team in ERA both as a sophomore and junior seasons. The Tribe was enamored enough with him to use the second overall pick in the June 1992 draft, tying him with four other selections in the June draft for highest selection ever (the Indians have picked first in other drafts though).
After signing on the dotted line, Shuey skipped rookie ball altogether and reported to the Columbus (GA) Red Stixx (South Atlantic-A) where he made 14 decent starts. As he was the second overall selection, Baseball America ranked him #81 overall heading into 1993. His 14 appearances for Kinston (Carolina-A+) were not all that impressive, but he get promoted to Canton-Akron (Eastern-AA) anyways where he struggled as well.
In 1994, he started off back in Kinston, found his groove (3.75 ERA, 12.0 K/9 in 13 IP) quickly and jumped all the way to Cleveland for 14 hideous appearances (8.49 ERA, 2.229 WHIP), before heading the Charlotte Knights (International-AAA). But this was the start of the injury bug as he only had 46 innings total at all 3 stops. This didn’t stop Baseball America from putting him at #61 heading into into 1995 even though he had dropped off prior to 1994. He was injured again in 1995, 27.1 IP in AAA (the new affiliate was Buffalo) and 6.1 IP in Cleveland.
In 1996, he was finally healthy, 33.1 IP in Buffalo and 53.3 IP in Cleveland. He also had a 2.85 ERA (171 ERA+) and 7.4 K/9 that year. He pitched poorly in 1998, with another injury limiting him to 45 IP and 5 rehab appearances in the minors. The only season he seemed to be completely healthy was 1999, when he had a 3.53 ERA (146 ERA+), 11.4 K/9 in 81.2 IP. But at least from 1998 to 2001 he was still effective even though he was hurt … 3.23 ERA (149 ERA+), 1.344 WHIP, 10.8 K/9 in 250.2 IP. But Shuey never missed the minors in any season with the Tribe: 1994-33 appearances, 1995-25, 1996-19, 1997-5, 1998-12, 1999-1, 2000-2, 2001-1, 2002-2.
In late 2002, when Shapiro was starting the first blow-up, Shuey was one of the pieces traded at the deadline. He went to the Dodgers Terry Mulholland, Ricardo Rodriguez and Francisco Cruceta. He stayed healthy those last two months in Los Angeles, but 2003 would be more of the same. He made 62 effective appearances with the Dodgers but kept his minor league streak alive with 1 game in Las Vegas. He missed almost all of 2004, 5 appearances in the Dodgers minor league system, and then signed back with the Indians in 2005, making 1 appearance in Akron. He decided to hang it up that offseason, getting a hip replacement, thus ending his 14 year consecutive streak in the minors.
After rehabbing in 2006, he gave it one more go round with the Orioles, 22 appearances in the minors and 25 appearances in Baltimore before retiring from baseball for good. He is still a competitor, but now as a bass fisherman.
Shuey ended his Indian career with a 34-21 record, 21 saves, 361 appearances, 3.60 ERA (133 ERA+), 1.396 WHIP, 10.0 K/9 in 404.2 IP. He finished 9th in games played and 10th in games finished (127) for Indian pitchers.
The Perfect Round
Step up to the tee, pull out your driver and let’s see if we can achieve a birdie on all 18 holes (par of 72). Not that we have a player that could duplicate that score, but the top #54 in history is David Richard Riske. The Renton, WA native attended the Green River Community College in Auburn, WA when the Indians used a flier pick (#56) on him in the 1996 draft.
After signing, he reported to the Kinston Indians (Carolina-A+) and had a2.25 ERA, 1.264 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 in 72 IP as a 20 year old. He ended up repeating Kinston in 1998 and was just as good, 2.21 ERA, 1.140 WHIP and 11.4 K/9 in 54 IP before two late season appearances in Akron (Eastern-AA). He was fantastic for Akron in 1999, 1.90 ERA, 0.761 WHIP and 12.5 K/9 in 23.2 IP; so he moved right on through to Buffalo (International-AA) and he continued his brilliance, 0.65 ERA, 0.759 WHIP and 7.2 K/9. He even got his first taste of the bigs and had a 10.3 K/9 but 1.857 WHIP in only 14 IP.
But 2000 was injury filled, only 5 appearances total in the minors. He proved to be healthy in 53.1 IP for Buffalo in 2001 and returned to the majors, 1.98 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 27.1 IP. He spent the bulk of 2002 in Cleveland, before becoming a bullpen staple from 2003-2005, 3.04 ERA (142 ERA+) 1.122 WHIP and 8.3 K/9 in 224.2 IP with 14 saves. In the 2005 offseason, Shapiro was enamored with Andy Marte, formally of the Braves and now in the Red Sox possession. Along with Coco Crisp and Josh Bard, Riske made the journey to Beantown for Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, Guillermo Mota and Randy Newsom. That trade really turned out to be quite poor for the Tribe.
Riske was only in Boston through June, before changing Sox from Red to White for Javier Lopez. He was solid in both places and signed a one year deal with the Royals for 2007. After another really good season (187 ERA+) he signed a three year deal with the Brewers. He missed most of 2009 and 2010 with injuries and retired after the 2010 season.
A Brief History - 53
Finishing second behind Shuey would be Rafael Perez, the Fist of Steel. A seven year veteran in #53, Raffy P had one dominant season in 2007, a 1.78 ERA (255 ERA+) 0.923 WHIP and 9.2 K/9 in 60.1 IP. He was great against the Yankees in the ALDS but terrible versus the Red Sox in the next round. Raffy was very effective in 2008, and again in 2010-2011 (120, 122 and 130 ERA+ respectively). But since 2008 his K/9 has not been above 6.0, making him more of a LOOGY than a set-up reliever.
The only other player of notoriety (?) would be Arthur Rhodes, in 2005. After Matt Lawton was deemed expendable, he was dealt to the Pirates for Rhodes. His one season was fairly dominant, 2.08 ERA (203 ERA+) in 43.1 IP in 47 appearances. His WHIP was 1.038 and a nice 8.9 K/9 to boot. After the season, Shapiro needed some help in the outfield and dealt Rhodes for Jason Michaels.
Only one hitter has worn #53 and that was Jerry Willard, who also was the inaugural #53 in 1984. Another decent year was put in by Jeremy Hernandez in 1993 after arriving from the Padres, a 139 ERA+ in 77.1 IP. But a WHIP of 1.319 and 5.1 K/9 was mediocre enough, so off to the Marlins he went.
A Brief History - 54
If 2012 stats were included in the numbers below, most likely Chris Perez would have gotten the nod ahead of Riske. And if he sticks around in 2013, he is virtually automatic (health permitting). A first round pick by the Cardinals in 2006 from the University of Miami (FL), Perez quickly rose through the Redbirds minor system. He made his debut in 2008 with a 123 ERA+ and 9.1 K/9 in 41.2 IP in 2008. But with an established closer in Ryan Franklin and Jason Motte waiting in the wings, he was deemed expendable for Mark DeRosa.
After about a season getting used to Cleveland in late 2009, Perez assumed the closer’s role at the start of 2010 but moved back to a set-up role behind Kerry Wood in mid-May. After the All-Star game, Perez re-assumed the closer’s role and has been there ever since. he made the All-Star team in 2011 and again this year.
Again, only one hitter has worn #54, Kevin Rhomberg in 1982 and 1983. So he is obviously the leader in all hitting stats for this jersey. The top two in IP are not either Riske or Perez. They are actually Mark Clark and Rod Nichols with 361.1 and 330.1 IP respectively. Both were around league average, so really nothing to see here.
The One Year Wonders
Jerry Willard, Sammy Stewart, Jeremy Hernandez, Jeriome Robertson, Jeremy Guthrie and Arthur Rhodes all wore uniform #53 for only one season. Gary Boyd is the only player to have worn uniform #54 for only one season.
The All-Time List - 53
Reggie Ritter RP (1986-1987) 1-1, 19 G, 0 GS, 6.14 ERA, 36.2 IP, 73 ERA+; also #44 in 1987
Sammy Stewart RP, SP (1987) 4-2, 25 G, 0 GS, 5.67 ERA, 27 IP, 81 ERA+
Jeremy Hernandez RP (1993) 6-5, 49 G, 0 GS, 3.14 ERA, 77.1 IP, 139 ERA+; traded by Padres for Fernando Hernandez and Tracy Sanders; traded to Marlins for Matt Turner
Paul Shuey RP (1994-2002) 34-21, 361 G, 0 GS, 3.60 ERA, 404.2 IP, 133 ERA+; traded to Dodgers for Terry Mulholland, Ricardo Rodriguez and Francisco Cruceta
Carl Sadler RP (2002-2003) 1-2, 42 G, 0 GS, 3.60 ERA, 30 IP, 125 ERA+
Jeremy Guthrie RP (2004) 0-0, 6 G, 0 GS, 4.63 ERA, 11.2 IP, 97 ERA+; switched to 36 in 2005
Arthur Rhodes RP (2005) 3-1, 47 G, 0 GS, 2.08 ERA, 43.1 IP, 203 ERA+; traded by Pirated for Matt Lawton; traded to Phillies for Jason Michaels
Rafael Perez RP (2006-2012) 20-12, 330 G, 0 GS, 3.64 ERA, 321.1 IP, 115 ERA+ (2012 stats not included)
The All-Time List - 54
Gary Boyd RP, SP (1969) 0-2, 8 G, 3 GS, 9.00 ERA, 11 IP, 43 ERA+
Kevin Rhomberg LF, PR, DH, PH (1982-1983) 410/455/487 158 OPS+, 44 PA; also #12 and #18 in 1983
Mike Jeffcoat RP (1983-1984) 6-5, 74 G, 3 GS, 3.08 ERA, 108 IP, 136 ERA+; also #46 in 1984; switched to #46 in 1985
Tom Waddell RP (1984-1985, 1987) 15-11, 113 G, 9 GS, 4.30 ERA, 215.1 IP, 97 ERA+; also #46 in 1984;rule 5 draftee from Braves
Rod Nichols RP, SP (1989-1992) 10-23, 80 G, 38 GS, 4.25 ERA, 330.1 IP, 95 ERA+; was #57 in 1988
David Riske RP (1999, 2000-2005) 17-12, 287 G, 0 GS, 3.55 ERA, 317.1 IP, 124 ERA+; traded with Coco Crisp and Josh Bard to Red Sox for Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, Guillermo Mota and Randy Newsom (PTBNL)
Brian Slocum RP (2006, 2008) 0-0, 10 G, 2 GS, 7.78 ERA, 19.2 IP, 59 ERA+
Statistics and such
The uniform #53 has been worn 30 times by 11 different players covering 26 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #53 was shared in a season four times, 1987, 1993, 2002 and 2004.
The uniform #54 has been worn 27 times by 9 different players covering 25 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #54 was shared in a season twice, 1983 and 1984.