Yesterday, I decided I was going to explore all the players who were eligible for this year's Baseball Hall Of Fame ballot but didn't make it, despite having at least some kind of career. I was going to do it all in one article, but when I hit 500+ words on Edgardo Alfonzo, I decided to break them up. So here's the next two in the series (collect them all!)
Scott Erickson (P)
Teams: Minnesota Twins (1990-1995), Baltimore Orioles (1995-2002), New York Mets (2004), Texas Rangers (2004), Los Angeles Dodgers (2005), New York Yankees (2006)
Best Season: 1991 (20-8, 3.18 ERA, AL Cy Young runner-up)
All-Star Appearences: 1 (1991)
Claim To Fame: Threw first no-hitter in Metrodome history. Married Lisa Guerrero.
Scott Erickson won 142 games in his major league career, and arguably experienced his career peak in his first full season, winning 20 games for the World Series Champion "worst to first" Minnesota Twins. Erickson really didn't strike people out, but he kept the ball in the park, which can work for the right team. Erickson put together some ugly seasons for Minnesota following that, but then was dealt to Baltimore where his ability to pitch every fifth day was appreciated by a team that counted Kevin Brown and Ben McDonald among it's rotation. Erickson signed a big money extension with Baltimore, where he threw until his arm fell off, missing half of the 2000 and all of the 2001 season after Tommy John surgery, then 2003 with a torn labrum. After that, Erickson signed with the Mets, got dealt to the Rangers for Josh Hoffpauir, then went through stints with the Dodgers and Yankees before calling it a career.
Rick Helling (P)
Teams: Texas Rangers (1994-1996, 1997-2001), Florida Marlins (1996-1997, 2003), Arizona Diamondbacks (2002), Baltimore Orioles (2003), Milwaukee Brewers (2005-2006)
Best Season: 1997 (20-7, 4.41 ERA, 21st in AL MVP balloting)
All-Star Appearences: 0
Claim To Fame: Owns World Series Championship rings from both 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins teams
Helling was a poor man's Scott Erickson. Much like Erickson, Helling's best weapon was his ability to go out on the mount every fifth day and throw enough innings to rest a bullpen. The 22nd overall pick in the 1992 amateur draft (that gave us Phil Nevin as the #1 overall pick), Helling bounced back and forth between the majors and AAA for Texas until he was finally dealt to Florida in 1996 in a deal to get John Burkett. Helling worked as a spot starter for Florida and did so well apparently that Texas had to pick him back up the following season. The season after that, Helling won 20 games for the Rangers with smoke and mirrors as the ace of a train-wreck rotation that included Darren Oliver, Esteban Loaiza, and Bobby Witt. Despite this, Helling never saw an ERA below 4 until the 2005 season with Milwaukee, his 11th season in the majors and his next-to-last.
Why stick these two together? When Scott Erickson was diagnosed with a torn labrum in 2003, the Orioles sought out a starting pitcher to replace him. Who did they sign? Rick Helling, who stuck it up for the O's for most of the season before being cut. A week later, he was signed by the Marlins again, who got him another World Series ring, and this time let him be part of the celebration (Helling was traded away from the Marlins during their championship 1997 season but was awarded a World Series ring due to his time spent with the team that season.)