1. Dwight Gooden
This one was difficult for me personally. I grew up watching Gooden pitch and he was everything to my generation of Mets fans. But, he threw it all away famously as we all saw. He took all of that talent and flushed it away and to a kid growing up with him as the “hero”, it was very sad. The kid inside me is so angry that I couldn’t even shake his hand right now, but I can still acknowledge the all-world talent this man arrived on the scene with.
1984 was the year that the fireballer from Florida showed up in the big city. He went to the All-Star game that year, becoming the youngest to do it at age 19. He struck out the side in his appearance, taking the national stage by storm. That year he went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA, earning the Rookie of the Year award and finishing second in the Cy Young race. He earned the Cy Young the next year when he finished 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA. He struck out batters at a rapid pace, with 276 in 218 inning as a rookie, and 268 in 276 1/3 innings in 1985. This is where the “K corner” that we see variations of around the league began.
Gooden still struck out 200 in 1986 even though the luster was starting to come off the rose a little bit. For purposes of this article we a going to focus on the good, so Gooden did keep his yearly record over .500 each season until 1992. He wasn’t the same pitcher as when he came up but he managed to be a solid one.
For the youngsters that didn’t have the opportunity, take a look at some highlights:
His stuff was so magnificent, it’s a wonder how he ever lost. Between the rising fastball and his 12-6 curveball, Gooden was virtually unhittable. If he had continued on the path he started on he would have ended up as the best pitcher that any of us ever saw. Period. Even without that, he deserves the number one slot on this list.