After 11 Major League seasons, Josh Willingham has decided to call it a career. The 35-year old outfielder told ESPN.com about his retirement Monday morning, saying that “After praying on my decision many times and talking to my wife, my father and ex-players who have gone through the same process toward the end of their careers, I have decided to retire.”
Willingham was drafted by the then-Florida Marlins in 2000 in the 17th round. The outfielder got the opportunity to play every day in the Marlins 2006 campaign, and would stay there until he was traded to the Washington Nationals following the 2008 season. He would stay with the Nationals until he was traded to the Oakland Athletics following the 2010 season. After staying in Oakland for 1 season, the Alabama native would sign a 3 year/$21 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. He would stay with Minnesota until traded to the AL-Champion Kansas City Royals in August.
Known for his power, ‘The Hammer’ belted 195 career home runs and drove in 632 RBIs. The righty also exhibited a good knowledge of where the strike-zone was. From 2006-2014, Willingham chased only 20% of the pitches he saw outside of the zone—good enough for the 25th lowest total over that time frame among hitters with at least 1500 plate appearances. On July 27th, 2009 Willingham hit 2 grand slams in the same game against the Milwaukee Brewers—becoming only the 13th player all time to do so. The late-bloomer had his best season in 2012 for the Twins. Willingham—then 33—hit 35 homers, drove in 110 RBI’s and posted a .260/.366/.524 clip over a career-high 615 PA’s. His 2012 campaign was good enough to yield a Silver Slugger award, where he joined Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout among the 3 recipients for Outfield that season.
Willingham said that he also walked away from a “substantial offer from a contending club this offseason” and went on to say that “I’m honored to have played for as many years as I have, and I feel even luckier to walk away on my own terms instead of having the decision made for me.”