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This Date in White Sox History: November 7, 1971

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Todd Ritchie, one of the worst pitchers in White Sox history, is born

Kenny Williams, in his natural habitat, on the prowl for sinkerballers.
Kenny Williams, in his natural habitat, on the prowl for sinkerballers.
David Banks

Kenny Williams traded RHP Kip Wells, RHP Josh Fogg and RHP Sean Lowe to get RHP Todd Ritchie (and something called Lee Evans) late in 2001. Ritchie was coming off of a third decent but unspectacular season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because the Pirates were terrible - some things never change - his win/loss record wasn't all that pretty. In 2001, he lost 15 games for the 100-loss Pirates; however, his peripherals weren't all that bad.

While he wasn't going to strikeout a lot of guys, he didn't walk a lot of them, either. He had a decent fastball, a sinker in the low 90s, and a hard slider. In 2002, it seemed like he had abandoned his changeup and used a splitter in its place. He also mixed in a curve.

Ritchie was one of the earliest indications of Kenny Williams' predilection for guys with (alleged) sink on their fastballs - Jeff Marquez being perhaps the most infamous. He was being added to a team coming off of an 83-79 third place finish and with a core of offensive players - Paul Konerko, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee, Ray Durham and, of course, Frank Thomas - that was pretty darn good. The pitching, however, was a mess. A young Mark Buehrle, in his first season as a starter, was the only bright spot in the rotation. And there were legitimate questions whether he would be able to come anywhere near replicating his brilliant season.

Ritchie, while not an ace, had shown an ability to provide lots of decent innings. And a dependable starter was something the White Sox rotation could have used.

And he gave them that. For the first month and a half. Then the wheels fell off.

On May 20, he had a 3.32 ERA. Thereupon he embarked upon one of the worst stretches of regular horseshitness that ever was seen. He gave up 7 runs, 6 runs, 8 runs, 4 runs, 6 runs, 6 runs, 3 runs, 6 runs, 5 runs, 6 runs, 5 runs, 6 runs, 2 runs, 8 runs, 5 runs and - on August 3rd - 6 runs. Mercifully, the following day, Ritchie was placed on the DL with right shoulder I-keep-giving-up-lots-of-runs inflammation.

It was not only merciful for White Sox fans but for Ritchie, as well, since he had already accumulated 15 losses and was a sure bet to be the first to eclipse 20 losses since Brian Kingman in 1980.

He came back in mid-September and made three short, scoreless appearances out of the bullpen. He did not add to his loss total.

Ritchie was a free agent after the season and, assuredly, there was no thought to bring him back. His season is one of those that produced a large discrepancy in WAR, depending upon how one calculated it. If you're the type to stick more to what the pitcher has the most control over, you'd see his fWAR at 1.4. Looking at the results, however, you'd see his bWAR at -1.8. In this case, the latter most definitely was not an injustice.