Oakland Athletics five best free agent signings
By David Hill
1. Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart was told by the Baltimore Orioles that they did not have a spot for him, even in AA, when the Oakland Athletics came calling. The rest was history.
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A journeyman pitcher who had only won double digit games once in his first seven years (10 victories in 1983) Stewart developed a forkball upon joining the A’s in 1986. That pitch proved to be the missing piece, a devastating third option to pair with his fastball and slider. He showed signs of promise for the remainder of that season, but truly took off in 1987.
In that year, Stewart began a streak of four consecutive seasons where he won at least 20 games each year. That season also saw Stewart become the first A’s pitcher since Vida Blue in 1971 to strike out over 200 batters in a season. The A’s had their workhorse, a top of the rotation arm who appeared out of nowhere.
While Stewart did return for one last season in 1995 to close out his career, the bulk of his success came in the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. Overall, he posted a 119-78 record with the A’s, along with a 3.73 ERA and a 1.318 WHiP, striking out 1152 batters in 1717.1 innings. Stewart was an intimidating figure on the mound, his glare and intensity striking fear into the opposition.
The Oakland Athletics could not have expected much when they signed Dave Stewart. Instead, they found their ace on the scrap heap.