December 1, 1970 |
|July 7, 1993, for the Montreal Expos|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 29, 2005, for the San Francisco Giants|
|Earned run average||4.27|
Kirk Wesley Rueter (born December 1, 1970) is a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, and is the most successful left-hander in San Francisco Giants history. Rueter played for the Montreal Expos and the Giants and made most of his career appearances as a starter. Rueter attended and played for Murray State University. He is nicknamed "Woody" after his resemblance to a character in the animated movie Toy Story, although during his time in Montreal he was often referred to as "Captain Kirk". Rueter was born in Centralia, Illinois, grew up in Hoyleton, Illinois and graduated from Nashville Community High School District 99 in Nashville, Illinois in 1988.
Drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1991, Rueter broke into the majors in 1993 and posted an 8-0 record in 14 games. His years with the Expos were uneven after his breakout year, with a reasonable 1994 performance followed by a solid 1995 and a mediocre 1996.
That year, the San Francisco Giants traded Mark Leiter, then the organization's most prominent starting pitcher, to the Expos for Rueter and Tim Scott. Scott posted an 8.24 ERA with the Giants, but Rueter blossomed into one of the Giants' most dependable starters. The following season, Rueter pitched in his first full season and to great success, going 13-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 starts with a career high 115 K's. In 1998, despite achieving a career high 16 victories, Rueter's ERA rose from the previous season, finishing with a 4.36 in 187+ innings.
In 1999, backed with a lot of run support, Rueter reached 15 wins despite posting an ERA of 5.41, while also serving 28 home runs.
In 2000, Rueter was the first pitcher to start a major league game at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco. By the end of the season, Rueter bounced back to post an ERA of 3.96, while also collecting 11 wins. For many fans, Rueter's defining moment as a Giant was his gutsy bullpen performance in Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS, where he relieved starter Shawn Estes after Estes sprained his ankle on a baserunning play.
2002, the year of a Giants' World Series appearance, was statistically Rueter's best year. He went 14-8 with a 3.23 ERA. Rueter was the pitcher in Game 4 of the 2002 World Series; he went six innings, allowing three earned runs. Rueter also pitched shutout ball in relief of Liván Hernández in Game 7 of the 2002 Series, but the Giants failed to score enough runs to come back.
In 2003, despite posting a record of 10-5 in 27 starts, Rueter had an ERA of 4.53 and went through control problems throughout the season, recording 47 walks while striking out just 41.
He began to struggle in 2004 with a 9-12 record and a 4.73 ERA, while continuing with his control issues from the previous season. Despite starting 33 games for the Giants, Rueter issued 66 walks while striking out 56.
In 2005, after posting a 2-7 record and 5.95 ERA, the Giants designated him for assignment. His nine-year tenure in San Francisco ended with some controversy, as Rueter complained about having to pitch out of the bullpen and only pitching three times in his last 41 days as a Giant.
Rueter's trademarks were his fast-paced pitching style and his large ears. Rueter resides in Nashville, Illinois, with his wife and two daughters and his home is famous for its "Shed", a large recreational facility filled with games and sports memorabilia. Rueter also resided at the Shed during the off-seasons of his playing career. When the Giants made trips to St. Louis during the baseball season, Rueter invited the team to relax at his Shed.
On March 6, 2006, Rueter announced his retirement from the game after 13 seasons. He retired as the most successful left-handed pitcher in San Francisco Giants history, with 105 of his 130 career wins in a Giants uniform. Rueter is the 20th most successful pitcher in all-time Giants franchise history. He is the third most successful pitcher in San Francisco Giants history. He made the third most career starts in San Francisco Giants history. Only Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry had more career starts and wins. The Giants honored Rueter's career during pregame ceremonies on "Kirk Rueter Day" at SBC Park on August 19, 2006, by giving Rueter a lifesize bobblehead of his likeness and giving him and his family a trip to Hawaii.
Throughout his career, Rueter was primarily a control and changeup pitcher. His fastball rarely hit 90 mph. He threw changeups, fastballs, sinkers, curveballs, cut fastballs, and sliders. He also was an exceptional fielder, ranking highly in defensive metrics throughout his career.
Some credited the effects of the QuesTec umpiring system to his decline, because Rueter's success came mostly from being able to "paint the corners" of the strike zone and the system effectively took that ability away from him because it encouraged umpires to call a tighter strike zone. Rueter was never a strikeout pitcher; he struck out more than a hundred batters in a season only twice in his career. Former teammate Rich Aurilia said, "He was very, very capable of winning with his stuff because he had confidence in what he could do. He always pitched to what his strengths were."
- Schulman, Henry (2005-08-15). "Bitter S.F. end for Rueter Giants designate frustrated left-hander for assignment". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- Draper, Rich (2006-03-06). "Former Giants lefty Rueter retires". MLB.com. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- San Francisco Giants Historical Player Stats
- Kirk Rueter Day
- Rueter's Baseball-Reference.com Bullpen page describes him as one of baseball's all-time best fielding pitchers.
- Haft, Chris (December 16, 2010). "Hall won't beckon, but Rueter had fine career". Giants.MLB.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Schulman, Henry (2006-03-06). "Rueter, Giants' winningest lefty, retires". San Francisco Chronicle.