Klaus Knüttel (Workhorse)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 187 lb.
Klaus Knüttel was a star German two-way player and the first player in Bundesliga-1 history to 100 home runs.
He was 1 for 6 for the German team in the 1983 European Junior Championship at age 14. He was MVP of the Dutch junior league in 1986. In the European Junior Championship that year, he was 4 for 16 with two walks and a homer, but made 8 errors in 4 games. The German baseball federation website lacks yearly stats prior to 1994, but does show some awards and his performance in international events. In the 1987 European Championship, he played for the senior German national team for the first time while only 18 years old. He was 0 for 2 with two walks and allowed two unearned runs in one inning as a bench player. He was 1 for 3 with a walk, run and a RBI in the 1989 European Championship but was already one of Germany's most-trusted hurlers, going 0-3 with a 8.87 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 22 1/3 IP. While those numbers aren't that great, he was second on a weak German staff in ERA (Frank Jäger was lower) and he led in strikeouts (two ahead of Alexander Schön) and innings pitched.
Klaus was 2 for 8 with a double, run and 4 RBI in the 1990 European Championship B-Pool. He was 1-0 with two runs in 7 innings allowed on the hill. He was named MVP of the 1991 Bundesliga finals, the 6th time he had helped the Mannheim Tornadoes win it all (3 more titles would follow). He was named the best pitcher in Bundesliga-1 in 1992. He then dazzled in the 1992 European Championship B-Pool, hitting .519/.567/1.185 with 5 homers, 13 runs and 21 RBI in 6 games. He was 1-0 with a 8.31 ERA on the mound, walking 11 in 8 2/3 IP. He was easily Germany's top offensive performer as they won the tourney, though Stephan Jäger, Frank Jäger and Martin Helmig all hit very well. He had 8 more RBI than Helmig, who was second on the squad. Udo Kirschner, Michael Wäller and Helmig all pitched significantly better. In 1993, he was again the MVP of the Bundesliga finals. He hit .267/.267/.371 with 3 runs and 3 RBI in 8 games in the 1993 European Championship and was 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 16 walks in 13 IP. He was slightly above the team average on both offense and pitching. He led the team in strikeouts and walks and tied Kirschner for the most losses.
Knüttel hit .365/.491/.635 with 42 runs in 27 games in 1994 and was 9-0 with 3 saves and a 2.50 ERA in the regular season for Mannheim. He was 8th in the Bundesliga-1 South in hits, 3rd in runs, tied for 7th in walks (19), first in wins, tied for 5th in pitching strikeouts (43) and tied for 4th in saves. Had he qualified, he would have led in ERA as well. He was named the Pitcher of the Year. In the playoffs, he was 10 for 30 with 2 doubles and 2 homers, with 9 runs and 12 RBI in 7 games. He was 4-0 with a 4.33 ERA as Mannheim won its 8th title with him.
In 1995, he had a 9-8, 4.78 record for Mannheim, whiffing 115 in 105 1/3 IP; he hit .326/.448/.570 with 5 homers, 20 runs and 20 RBI in 28 games. He tied for 4th in the southern Bundesliga-1 in homers, was third with 18 walks, was 10th in slugging, 10th in OBP, 10th in OPS, 6th in ERA, 1st in strikeouts (49 ahead of runner-up Frank Stattler), tied Stattler for second in wins (2 behind Stefan Fechtig), was 4th in losses and led in IP (by 44 1/3 IP) yet was only 4th in walks (39). He made the Bundesliga All-Star team for the second straight year (it is unclear when this honor began being given out as he likely would have gotten more earlier in his career). The 26-year-old tossed 3 shutout innings (2 H, 1 BB, 5 K) in the 1995 European Championship. While he would remain a productive player in the Bundesliga, he would never again play for the national team.
Knüttel produced at a .486/.593/.889 clip with 25 runs and 32 RBI in 26 games in 1996 and only struck out three times in 72 AB. He was 7-4 with a save and a 2.86 ERA on the mound. He hit .345/.441/.690 in the playoffs but struggled on the mound (1-2, 2 Sv, 8.68). He finished among the Bundesliga-1 South leaders in average (2nd to David Duncan), tied Eddy Polanco for 4th in home runs (7), tied Oscar Baraja for third in RBI, was 6th in hits, tied for 6th in walks (18), was 4th in slugging, ranked second in OBP (37 points behind Duncan), was second in OPS (behind Duncan; he was the lone native German in the top 10, which was dominated by Americans and Dominicans), was third in ERA behind Stattler and Helmig, was third in strikeouts, ranked third in wins and was third in WHIP after Stattler and Helmig as well. He was an All-Star again.
Klaus hit .483/.584/.888 with 8 homers, 32 runs and 34 RBI in 28 games in the 1997 regular season while he was 7-3 with a 3.20 ERA as a pitcher. In the postseason, he batted .345/.414/.459 with 8 RBI in 9 games and had a 2-1, 2.55 record as Mannheim won their 9th and final title of his career. He finished 5th in the circuit in average, tied Octavio Medina for 6th in homers, tied for third in RBI, tied Duncan for third in hits (43, behind Ruben Cruz and Medina), tied Fechtig for 8th in doubles (10), was 9th in runs, drew the third-most walks (21) and was 6th in each slugging, OBP and OPS. He was second in fielding percentage (.993, behind Mathias Winterrath), was 8th in strikeouts (49) and ranked 5th in wins.
The right-hander was 11-1 with a save and a 4.28 ERA in 1998 while batting .441/.565/.755 with 52 runs and 43 RBI in 35 games. He was 8th in average, 9th in RBI (between Edward Martinez and Polanco), 8th in runs, 9th in walks (28), 7th in slugging, ranked 5th in OBP, was 8th in OPS, was 5th in ERA, tied Thorsten Appel for third in strikeouts (77), tied for first in wins, was second in strikeout rate and was second in WHIP. He hit .321/.443/.593 with 24 runs and 28 RBI in 28 games in 1999 and was 6-3 with a 5.77 ERA. In the postseason, he batted .250/.455/.375 with 5 runs in six games and was 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA. He tied Martinez for 6th in home runs (8), was 9th in RBI, tied for 8th in walks (18), was second in fielding percentage (.991), ranked 6th in ERA, was 7th in strikeouts (51), tied for 4th in wins and was 5th in WHIP. He made the All-Star team.
In 2000, he was 7-3 with 3 saves and a 6.72 ERA and hit .382/.505/.711 with 24 runs and 24 RBI in 26 games, while making no errors. In the postseason, he was 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA and went 5 for 20 with four walks and a home run for Mannheim. He was on the leaderboard in ERA (4th), strikeouts (64, 3rd), wins (tied for second, two behind Martin Almstetter), saves (tied for 5th with Michael Otto), IP (4th), strikeouts per IP (5th), WHIP (4th) and walk rate (2nd). In a high-offense season, he did not make the top 10 in any offensive category. He was an All-Star. The next season, he slumped to .279/.442/.436 as a batter but had a 9-0, 2.75 record as a pitcher. He was 4-0 with a 0.60 ERA in the postseason while going 0-for-7 with two walks offensively. He was third in ERA, second in wins, tied for 6th in innings (59) and was third in WHIP behind Otto and Jan Rüssel. He won Best Pitcher honors.
He made his final All-Star selection in 2002, when his offensive continued to falter (.259/.362/.302) but his pitching remained sharp (9-4, 3.75, 73 K in 74 1/3 IP) until the playoffs (0-1, 17 R in 9 1/3 IP). He was 6th in ERA, third in strikeouts (behind Rüssel and Markus Winkler), third in wins (after Peter Dankerl and Almstetter), second in innings (behind Almstetter), first in walk rate (issuing 19 free passes) and second in WHIP (after Jan-Sören Meyer). In '03, he hit .255/.364/.319 and was 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 30 K in 27 IP. He was 3 for 9 in the playoffs but 1-1 with a 8.10 ERA. He would have tied Meyer for third in ERA in the regular season had he qualified. He saw little action his last four years for the Tornados. He was 2 for 14 with 5 walks and did not pitch in 2004. In 2005, he had a 1-1, 4.35 record and went 4 for 14 with a triple, homer and two walks. During 2006, he batted .231/.302/.436 and allowed two runs in nine innings. He was 0 for 1 in 2007.
He retired with a .348 average and 106 home runs, the first player in Germany to go deep 100 times. He struck out 1,214 in 1,210 IP, going 128-43 and completing 46 of 278 games. He had a 4.26 ERA. For the national team, he hit .337/.435/.562 with 22 runs and 34 RBI in 31 games. He was 2-5 with a 6.71 ERA and struck out 58 in 55 IP, though he walked 38. He was much better in the European B Pool (.457/.475/1.000, 25 RBI in 8 G; 2-2 with a 5.74 ERA) than in the European Championship itself (.259/.278/.412, 9 RBI in 23 G; 0-5 with a 7.09 ERA). Through 2010, he was among the national team career leaders in average (4th, trailing Helmig, Jens Heymer and Sven Huhnholz), home runs (5, tied for 5th), RBI (tied for second with Simon Gühring, 12 behind Dominik Wulf), runs (15th), walks (17, tied for 8th with Frank Jäger and Daniel Schober), slugging (3rd behind Helmig and Heymer), OBP (6th, between Huhnholz and Stephan Jäger), pitching strikeouts (tied for 8th with Wäller), losses (tied for third with Peter Budny and Fechtig), innings (7th, between Wäller and Jürgen Helmig) and walks issued (2nd, 18 behind Claus Helmig).
Mannheim retired his number 44 in 2011.