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James Kevin Brown
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 195 lb.
- School Georgia Institute of Technology
- High School Wilkinson County High School
- Debut September 30, 1986
- Final Game July 23, 2005
- Born March 14, 1965 in Milledgeville, GA USA
Known for a very hot temper, Kevin Brown broke his glove hand late in the 2004 season when he punched a wall. It was rumored that the New York Yankees were very upset and were looking for ways that they could void his contract following the 2004 season.
While in high school, Brown played baseball, football and tennis. He then majored in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech and was named a first team All-American there. He is the winningest major league pitcher among the 17 major league pitchers to come out of Georgia Tech]. Brown pitched for Team USA in the 1985 Intercontinental Cup; despite the presence of Brown, Jack McDowell and Erik Hanson on the mound and hitters like Jeff King, Matt Williams and Joe Girardi, the USA only finished 2-5.
He was signed by the Texas Rangers and scout Andy Hancock as the fourth pick overall of the 1986 amateur draft and in 1992 became the second member of the Rangers to win 20 games in a season, after Ferguson Jenkins who did it in 1974.
Brown was the first player in baseball history to sign a deal worth a cumulative $100 million, when in December 1998, he signed a 7-year, $105 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the two seasons prior to signing the deal, he had built a reputation as one of baseball's premier clutch pitchers, successively leading the Florida Marlins and the San Diego Padres to unexpected World Series appearances in 1997 and 1998 respectively. He had gone 17-11 for the Marlins in 1996, then followed that with a 16-8 season in 1997, when the Fish went on to defeat the Cleveland Indians in the Series. He had won two games in the 1997 NLCS, but lost both of his World Series starts. The Marlins quickly dismantled the outstanding team they had assembled to win that title, and Brown found himself with the Padres. He went 18-7, 2.38 during the 1998 season, then won a couple of postseason games as the Padres unexpectedly reached the Series. However, he ran into the New York Yankees juggernaut in the fall classic, going 0-1 in two starts as the Padres were swept.
He is thought of as a bust after signing his huge deal with the Dodgers, but that is only because expectations for him were sky-high. He in fact had some excellent seasons in Los Angeles, including going 18-9 in 1999, 13-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2000, and 14-9, 2.39 in 2003. This is even more impressive as it came at the height of a hitters' era in baseball. However, as a team, the Dodgers did not perform well, failing to reach the postseason during that period. A number of large contracts - not just Brown's - had created a financial burden, and after the 2003 season, they decided to get some financial relief by getting rid of a player who still had some market value in spite of his large salary. He ended up with the New York Yankees, probably the only other team which could afford him, but he was getting on in years by then. He was only 10-6 with an ERA over 4.00 in 2004, his season being shortened by the injury mentioned above. In the famous 2004 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, he was rocked in both of his starts, including the decisive Game 7 in which he was the loser, giving up 5 runs in an inning and a third. He pitched one more season, in 2005, but had nothing left in the tank by then: he was 4-7, 6.50 in 13 starts and called it quits.
He became the 5th player to represent four different teams in the All-Star Game. He was a controversial figure because of his perceived lack of loyalty and his moving from team to team while at his peak, but it was as much a function of the times he pitched in as a matter of personal preference. He went 211-144 over 19 seasons and continually put up ERAs well below the league average, even if his career ERA of 3.28 looks unimpressive; his career ERA+ of 127 tells a more eloquent story.
- 6-time All-Star (1992, 1996-1998, 2000 & 2003)
- 2-time NL ERA Leader (1996 & 2000)
- AL Wins Leader (1992)
- AL innings Pitched Leader (1992)
- NL Shutouts Leader (1996)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 6 (1992, 1993 & 1996-1999)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1992)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1991-1993, 1996-2000 & 2003)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 4 (1997-2000)
- Won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997