Friday, January 18, 2013

#292 Craig Swan - New York Mets

Craig Swan's 9th Topps card has a picture taken from a familiar angle in this set.  I'm not sure what that is behind his shoulders in the background.  In some pictrues Swan looks a bit like Tom Selleck.

Baseball Card Database
Player: Craig Swan was a fantastic collegiate pitcher at Arizona State and he set an NCAA mark at the time with 48 career victories.  The Mets chose the hard throwing hurler in the 3rd round of the '72 draft.  He soon was overpowering batters at the AA and AAA levels and was given a shot my the Mets in September of '73.  He found major league hitters a little more difficult as they roughed him up for nine runs across eight innings in three outings.

Swan was up and down between the Mets and AAA in '74 recording a 4.45 ERA in 30 innings with New York.  A line drive broke his elbow and ended his season on June 9.
Swan returned with a great year for AAA Tidewater with a 2.24 ERA in 177 innings which earned him a promotion in August.  After winning his first start over the Giants he struggled in four of the next five games and finished 1-3 with a 6.39 ERA. 

When he was drafted the Mets envisioned Swan complementing veterans Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman on their staff but entering the '76 season he was 25 years old and had just two wins under his belt.  Pitching at the back of the Mets rotation Swan began to show flashes of brilliance.  He was streaky and posted an ERA of 3.55 in 132 innings in '76.  His cold streaks were longer than his hot stretches in '77 as his ERA inflated to 4.22. 

Swan broke through in '78 with an National League best 2.43 ERA.  He missed a handful of starts but threw 207 innings in just 28 starts.  Pitching for a 6th place Mets team he won just nine games.  As Swan got better the Mets kept getting worse.  By '79 Seaver and Koosman were both long gone and other than Swan with 14, no other Met pitcher won more than six.  He logged 251 innings with a 3.29 ERA.  Outside of New York he was going largely unnoticed as the Mets lost 99 games.

Swan signed a big contract and was living up to the deal with a 2.27 ERA in the middle of June.  He pitched through a sore arm for a while before sitting out for a month.  Before August was over he was on the disabled list and diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff.  Usually a death sentence for pitchers, Swan toughed it out and said he was ready to go come the '81 season.  In Swan's second start of the year catcher Ron Hodges drilled him in the back with a throw down to second base on a Tim Raines stolen base.  The throw fractured a rib put him out of action until June, but more troublesome was that his arm still was hurting.  He pitched three more games but was sidelined when he could no longer ignore the pain.

After rehabbing in winter instructional ball, Swan pitched mainly out of the Mets bullpen to start the '82 season.  By June he was back in the rotation and pitching well.  He finished the year with 11 wins and a 3.35 ERA in 166 frames.  Arm troubles popped up again in '83 and he was limited to 96 ineffective innings.  Swan pitched just 10 games in relief for the Mets in '84 before they gave him his walking papers.  He pitched a couple of games for the Angels but he no longer had the same velocity and finished the year allowing as many runs, 23, as innings pitched. At age 33 Swan's career was over.
Baseball Card Database
Filpside:  Swan pitched six innings and got the win in the game on 8/4/82 in which he hit the home run but it was Joel Youngblood who got all the ink for playing for both Montreal and New York that day.
Oddball: Swan now rolfs for a living.  According to the Rolf Institute Rolfing Structural Integration is "a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body."
History:  Swan's career numbers: 59-72, 3.74 ERA, 96 ERA+ in 1,235 innings don't really tell the story of his up and down career.  He had a couple of great years with 5.4 and 4.4 WAR but finished his career with just 11.2 WAR.  He never was able to put it all together and retired having never been an All-Star or winning a major award.

No comments:

Post a Comment