Schmidt was born on January 29, 1973 in Lewiston Idaho. Schmidt showed his dominance early as a high school standout. In his senior year, he was named Gatorade State Player of the Year and All-State Most Valuable Player. After tossing a prep no-hitter and striking out 20 of the 21 batters he faced, he was offered a scholarship to the University of Arizona, but he never made it. In June, Schmidt signed with the Atlanta Braves after the Braves selected Schmidt in the eighth round of the 1991 draft.
In 1992, his first season in professional baseball, he won Pitcher of the Month honors. Three seasons later he made his Major League debut in relief for the Braves on April 28th versus the Dodgers. In 1996, he began the season in the Braves starting rotation. Injuries plagued the rookie and he was eventually placed on waivers and was claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 30th.
He opened the 2000 season and made his first Opening Day start, taking the ball versus the Houston Astros in the final Opening Day at Three Rivers Stadium. His 2-5 win-loss record is lowest since his rookie year in 1995. His season prematurely ended in August due to injury.
Schmidt was obtained by the Giants via a trade with the Pirates right before the end of the trading deadline in July 2001.
From 2003-2004 he started in 61 games and compiled a 35-12 record and a 2.79 earned run average.
Those numbers only tell part of the Jason Schmidt story.
Over that span and compared to other Major League pitchers he ranked
*tied for second in victories
*second in earned run average
*third in winning percentage (.745)
*tied for fourth in complete games (9)
*first in shutouts (6)
*first in strikeouts with 459
*second with batters batting only .201
Despite starting the 2004 campaign on the Disabled List with right rotator cuff tendinitis and not being activated until April 16th, Schmidt still managed to have a career year.
*Schmidt became the first Giants starting pitcher since Rick Reuschel (1988, 1989) to earn back-to-back appearances in the Mid Summer Classic.
*In 2004 he established career highs with 18 victories, 251 strikeouts and 225 innings pitched. His 251 strikeouts were the most since Juan Marichals 248 in 1963 and currently ranks third in Giants history behind Christy Mathewsons 267 in 1903 and 259 in 1908. Schmidt is the first Giants starting pitcher since Gaylord Perry (1969, 1970) to register consecutive 200+ strikeout seasons.
*Limited opponents to 3 earned runs or less in 23 of 32 outings in 2004
*Had a 12 game winning streak, the longest by a Giants pitcher since Jack Sanford won 16 straight in 1962.
*The first pitcher since Gaylord Perry in 1968 to toss a pair of one hitters in same season.
*Was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for May after posting a perfect 5-0 record and 1.53 earned run average.
*On July 27, 2004 in a victory over the San Diego Padres, Schmidt became the fastest San Francisco pitcher to win 50 games for the orange and black. His feat was accomplished in his 89th start.
*Had a pair of two homer games. The first was May 12th off the Phillies Randy Wolf and the second was off the Dodgers Jose Lima on July 1st.
*With a meager 2.34 he won the 2003 earned run average title.
After losing out, and placing second to the Los Angeles Dodgers Eric Gagne in the Cy Young race in 2003, Schmidt became the hands on favorite to win the award in 2004. A strong first half led many to think he was well on his way. On August 15th, Schmidt hurt his right groin in a contest versus Montreal. Returning before he was at full strength and at 100% hurt any chances he may have had. He ended up finishing a distant fourth to Houstons Roger Clemens.
Schmidt is one of the games hardest throwers and owns a changeup that is among the best in the game today. The once timid pitcher who nibbled at the corners now comes at batters, brushing them back with his fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 MPH.
Defensively, Schmidt is somewhat of a liability, committing three errors last season and 10 in his career.
Nagging injuries not withstanding, Schmidt is still one of the most powerful and fearful starters in the National League today. If he can manage to stay healthy, there is no reason he cant win 20+ games.
Wendy J Sotos is a Cleveland based writer who loves nothing more than a Jim Thome blast and an Omar Vizquel barehanded scoop. Both of which, she believes, will be Hall of Famers when their playing days are over.
Wendy can be reached at: designatedwriter@yahoo. com
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