In a career that lasted a lot longer than I imaged, Ron Villone was a journeyman reliever. Yes, he may have filled in as a starter from 1999 to 2004. But of his 717 games pitched, Villone only started in 93 games. With stats as mediocre as Villone’s, he goes to prove that many teams will sign a lefty with good enough stuff.
Seattle Mariners (1995, 2004-2005):
In two separate stints. He made his major league debut on April 28, 1995. Closing out a 9-2 win over the Tigers that night, he struck out Travis Fryman in a perfect ninth inning.
When he returned in 2004, he was a fill-in starter, going 2-2 with a 5.43 ERA. Needless to say his stats were much better as a setup man.
San Diego Padres (1995-1996):
Villone looked much improved when joining the Padres via trade (Andy Benes was one of the players sent to Seattle). In his 44 innings pitched, he went 3-2 with 56 strikeouts and only 18 runs scored against him.
Milwaukee Brewers (1996-1997):
Traded to the Brew Crew to give the Friars Greg Vaughn, Villone continued being a late innings guy. Unfortunately for him he was walking as many hitters as he was striking out (54 walks to 59 strikeouts). He was used as trade bait for Marquis Grissom and Jeff Juden.
Cleveland Indians (1998):
Things did not get better as Villone struggled in the 27 innings pitched, giving up 18 runs on 30 hits. It was no shock that Cleveland released him.
Cincinnati Reds (1999-2000):
The Reds decided to use Villone in the rotation. He did not do bad, starting the 2000 season 6-1, he improved on being a spot starter the previous season. He finished his career with the Reds with a 19-17 record in 45 starts.
Colorado Rockies (2001):
Traded away from Cincy, Villone was going to have to deal with the Coors Field conditions. Needless to say he did not retain his form. He struggled as a starter for the Rockies. In six starts (three of which were at Coors Field), he went 1-3. It was not long before he was on the move again.
Houston Astros (2001, 2003):
Traded for Jay Powell, Villone had a mediocre showing in his first run with the Astros. They utilized him as a reliever until late August, giving him some turns as a starter. His stats looked better, especially since he did not have to pitch in Denver for the rest of 2001.
His second time around, 2003, he was used exclusively as a starter. A 6-6 record in 19 starts, he put up better numbers up for the Astros. Just looking at his game logs, he did well, especially at a park with a short left-field porch.
Pittsburgh Pirates (2002):
Sandwiched between two stops to the space city, Villone was in the iron city during the dark depressing years of the Pirates’ franchise. He started the year with a spot in the rotation. That did not last long as he was getting pummeled by National League hitters. His numbers leveled off when he returned to the bullpen.
Florida Marlins (2005):
During his second stop in Seattle, Villone was traded to Florida. A deadline move, he was used as a clean up man in the bullpen, where he saw his base on balls problem flare up. His numbers in Miami are not overwhelming, nor is his game logs.
New York Yankees (2006-2007):
Making his way to New York, Villone was a filler in the bullpen. He was mainly used in blow outs, as you can see with his leverage splits.
St. Louis Cardinals (2008):
The Cardinals took on Villone and used him in late inning roles. He did well, picking up 16 holds in 22 save situations.
Washington Nationals (2009):
Villone finished his career in the same role he held with St. Louis. Granted this was a second division ball club, so his numbers are not overly impressive. He did showcase some nice defense in the face of his catcher’s ineptitude. Obviously, only the Mets could find a way to blow an opportunity like that.