There was a time when Ben Sheets was one of the better pitchers in the game. He was an impressive young pitcher for the Brewers whose career was unfortunately derailed by injuries. A four time All Star, he had Tommy John surgery at 29 years old, forcing him to miss the entire 2009 campaign.
However, Sheets was still just 31 years old when he was ready to return to the diamond. With his prior track record of success, he was the perfect lottery ticket, someone that could easily outperform expectations. The A’s brought Sheets in on a one year deal worth $10 million, hoping that he would be the ace of their staff.
The forgotten Ben Sheets Era with the Oakland A’s
Sheets was handed the ball on Opening Day that year, given a chance to make an immediate impact. He had made six Opening Day starts for Milwaukee, a team record that still stands, making him the perfect candidate for the role in Oakland.
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Sometimes the perfect candidate and perfect plan can lead to imperfect results. That was the case with Sheets on Opening Day in 2010, as he allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and four walks over his five innings, striking out three. The A’s would eventually lose the game 5-3 after an error extended the top of the ninth inning and Casey Kotchman hit a two run bases loaded single.
Those injury woes were not done with Sheets. He made just 20 starts before his season came to an end due to a torn flexor in his right elbow. Sheets ended up posting a 4-9 record with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.391 WHiP over his 119.1 innings, striking out 84 batters with 43 walks. While that production was not to his typical performance level, he was still a reasonably decent arm.
Sheets would undergo surgery once again, and miss the entire 2011 season as well. He would make a comeback with the Braves for 2012, signing a minor league deal before eventually reaching the majors. He would make nine starts for Atlanta before his career would come to an end.
Ben Sheets’ time with the Oakland A’s was essentially a footnote to his major league career. Nonetheless, he did make an Opening Day start and was a decent option before his arm gave out again.