Victory by the Bay

Kirk Rueter debuts on BBWAA ballot

December 30, 2010
Kirk Rueter won 130 big league games with the Expos and Giants. (NBHOF/Ponzini)

View a photo gallery of the 2011 BBWAA ballot

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Kirk Rueter reduced all the statistics and analysis surrounding big league pitching to two numbers: Wins and losses.

And by the end of his career, no left-hander wearing a San Francisco Giants uniform had won more games than Rueter.

Rueter, who played 13 big league seasons with the Expos and Giants, is one of 33 players on the 2011 Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the Class of 2011 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Rueter is making his debut on the BBWAA ballot.

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 5. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 24 in Cooperstown.

Rueter, born Dec. 1, 1970, in Hoyleton, Ill., played college baseball at Murray State University before being drafted in the 18th round by the Expos in 1993. Two summers later, Rueter found himself in the National League – and quickly set the majors on fire by going 8-0 with a 2.73 earned-run average over the last three months of the season. It was the best start to a career since Hooks Wiltse of the Giants went 12-0 in 1904.

Rueter went 7-3 for the 1994 Expos team that finished 74-40 in the strike-shortened season, then was dealt to the Giants near the 1996 trade deadline.

In 1997, Rueter recaptured his 1993 form by going 13-6 with a 3.45 ERA – including a 4-0, 1.97 ERA showing in September of that year to lead the Giants to the NL West title.

"He didn't have one great pitch, but he got hitters out with intelligence and command," said Felipe Alou, who managed Rueter in both Montreal and San Francisco.

Rueter won a career-best 16 games in 1998, and remained a mainstay of the Giants' staff through the 2004 season with pinpoint control and a hard-diving sinker. In 2002, Rueter was 14-8 in the regular season, then added a victory in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals and pitched six shutout innings in the Game 5 series-clincher for the Giants.

Rueter started Game 4 of the World Series against the Angels, allowing three runs in six innings in the Giants' 4-3 victory.

Rueter retired after the 2005 season with a record of 130-92, which included seven straight double-digit win seasons (1997-2003) and 105 victories with the Giants. Only Juan Marichal (238) and Gaylord Perry (134) have won more games wearing a San Francisco Giants uniform.

"It was a great run," Rueter said. "The Giants have been unbelievably good to me."

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum