|Seattle Mariners – No. 23|
June 16, 1981 |
|Bats: Left||Throws: Left|
|August 16, 2005 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
(through May 12, 2013)
|Earned run average||4.20|
|Career highlights and awards|
Joseph Francis Saunders (born June 16, 1981) is an American professional baseball pitcher with the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball. A left-handed pitcher, Saunders has also pitched in Major League Baseball with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Baltimore Orioles.
College and minor league career 
Saunders was drafted in the first round (12th overall) by the then Anaheim Angels in 2002. After being promoted to Single-A Cedar Rapids in 2002, he missed the entire 2003 season due to an injury in his left shoulder. He returned to the game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2004 and went 9-7 with a 3.41 ERA. He was promoted to Double-A Arkansas in 2004, and recorded a 7-4 record with two complete games in 2005.
Saunders was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake and was 10-7 with three complete games, including two shutouts, earning honors as the Angels Organization's Pitcher of the Year. He made his major league debut on August 16 against the Toronto Blue Jays, receiving a no decision after closer Francisco Rodriguez blew the save in a 4-3 loss for the Angels.
Saunders was sent back down to Salt Lake, but recalled on September 6 to start against the Seattle Mariners on September 14. Once again, he received a no-decision in a 10-9 defeat, and was optioned to Salt Lake. Though he was not placed on the playoff roster, he was re-signed by the Angels to a one-year contract.
He was named #37 of the top 50 minor league baseball players in 2006 by Minor League News.
Major league career 
Los Angeles Angels 
After Bartolo Colón was placed on the disabled list during the 2006 season, Saunders was recalled a final time and replaced Colon in the rotation. Before Saunders received his first loss, he compiled a 4-0 record. He ended the season with a 7-3 record and a 4.71 ERA.
Saunders began the 2007 season in the rotation while Colon remained on the disabled list. He was optioned to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees on April 21, 2007, to make room for Colon's return. Saunders made two spot starts for when a pitcher on the Angel's normal rotation was injured: for Colon (triceps tendinitis) on June 2, 2007, against the Baltimore Orioles and for Jered Weaver (bruised shoulder) on June 22, 2007, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was called up for a third time on July 21, 2007, to replace Ervin Santana in the starting rotation when Santana was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
As the only active major league player at the time from Virginia Tech, Saunders received special dispensation to wear a Virginia Tech cap during the April 20, 2007, game against the Seattle Mariners to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. Saunders also wore the initials "VT" on his cleats and drew the Virginia Tech logo on the back of the pitcher's mound before the start of the game. He picked up the win after pitching six shutout innings.
In 2008, Saunders entered spring training in a competition with Santana for the role of 5th starter in the Angels rotation. After the Angels' co-aces John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar sustained injuries, both Saunders and Santana were promoted to full time roles as the 3rd and 4th starter, respectively. In the first third of the season, both players shone brightly, with both being considered early candidates for the American League Cy Young Award. On June 3, 2008, Saunders became the American League's first 9 game winner in a 5-4 victory over division rivals the Seattle Mariners. Saunders gave up only 1 earned run, lowering his ERA to 3rd best in the American League in the process. Saunders also then became the first American League pitcher to get 11 wins, giving up only 2 earned runs to the Philadelphia Phillies on June 21, 2008. Following the 2008 season Saunders was asked to join the USA Baseball team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic however, Saunders declined the request.
Saunders was the opening day pitcher for the Angels in the 2009 season.
On May 9, 2009, Saunders had his first complete game shutout against the Kansas City Royals.
Arizona Diamondbacks 
On July 25, 2010 he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dan Haren. Three minor league pitchers, left hander Patrick Corbin and right hander Rafael Rodriguez, and Tyler Skaggs also went to Arizona.
On December 12, 2011, Saunders was non-tendered and became a free agent. On January 17, 2012, he resigned with the Diamondbacks for one year at a salary of $6 million.
Baltimore Orioles 
Seattle Mariners 
On February 12, 2013, Saunders agreed to a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners. Over his first six weeks of the season, Saunders pitched very well at home in Safeco Field and extremely poorly in his road outings. This coupled with previous good numbers at Safeco Field earned him the slightly-pejorative soubriquet "Safeco Joe."
Personal life 
Saunders is married to his Virginia Tech classmate, the former Shanel Garofalo. They have one daughter born on July 13, 2008. In an interview he described himself, "My personality is laid back and very low key. I like to have fun, and I like to hang out and be with family and friends. Then, once I get on the field, everything changes. I don’t think about any family, any friends, any babies, or anyone at all. Once I’m out there on that mound, I’m all business. I don’t think about anything except getting that hitter out any way I can."
- Bump, Larry. "Joe Saunders - No. 37 MLN FAB50 Baseball 2006 Mid-Season Rankings". Minor League News. Retrieved 2007-04-21.
- Brand, Richie (2007-04-21). "Former Hokie Saunders takes down M's". MLB.com. Retrieved 2007-04-21.
- Laurila, David (2009-10-17). "Prospectus Q&A: Joe Saunders". Baseball Prospectus. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)