Among the former Atlanta Braves to appear on the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. The right-hander with the unique wind-up pitched parts of sixteen seasons in MLB, debuting in 2000 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and wrapping up his career in 2017 for the Cincinatti Reds.
If you are scratching your head to remember when Arroyo pitched for Atlanta, don’t fret, because Arroyo never pitched for Atlanta due to injury. However, he was a member of the organization after the Braves acquired him (and, more importantly, his contract) as part of a mid-June 2015 trade with Arizona that sent Phil Gosselin to the Diamondbacks and brought pitching prospect Touki Toussaint to Atlanta.
Approximately six weeks later, Arroyo and his contract were part an enormous three-team trade right before the trade deadline in 2015 that saw 13 players and one draft pick traded between Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Miami Marlins.
All totaled, Arroyo pitched for four teams in MLB, with the longest and most successful tenure of his career coming with the Cincinatti Reds for whom he would pitch for nine seasons.
Arroyo began his career as a third-round draft pick by the Pirates in 1995. The Key West, FL-native would debut for Pittsburgh in 2000, but bounced between the big leagues and AAA for the Pirates and with Boston after the Red Sox claimed Arroyo off waivers prior to the 2003 season.
In 2004, at age 27, Arroyo became a full-time starter with the Red Sox, appearing in 32 games with 29 starts during a season that he led the AL in hit by pitches while posting a 120 ERA+ and 1.220 WHIP.
Following another solid season in the Red Sox rotation in 2005, Boston traded Arroyo to the Reds for slugging outfielder Wily Mo Pena.
Arroyo responded to the trade with the best season of his career, leading the National League in games started and innings pitched while pitching to a 142 ERA+ and a 1.188 WHIP. His performance earned him his lone All-Star Game selection and saw him pick up down-ballot votes for NL MVP.
Arroyo anchored the Reds rotation for eight seasons, pitching 199 or more innings in each season while leading the NL in games started again in 2008 and shutouts in 2009. Although he never achieved the same level of success as he had during the 2006 season, he was at-or-above average in all but two of his seasons during his first run with the Reds.
With a notorious high and straight lead leg as part of the mechanics in his wind-up - and an array of hair styles early in his career - Arroyo finished 12th in the NL Cy Young Award in 2010 and also won the Gold Glove that season.
He struggled badly in 2011, leading the NL in both earned runs and home runs allowed with 46 in 32 starts. He rebounded with two solid seasons for the Reds before signing as free agent with Arizona prior to Spring Training 2014.
Arroyo’s durability faltered with the Diamondbacks when he left a start in June with an elbow injury. That would lead to his first trip to the disabled list, having to undergo “Tommy John” surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
After being released by the Dodgers following the 2015 season, Arroyo signed a minor league deal with Washington but only pitched a handful of minor league innings before being shut down and ultimately released by the Nationals after the season.
Arroyo would sign a minor league contact with the Reds prior to the 2017 and made a return to a major league mound for the first time since 2014 with Cincinatti, starting 14 games - including one complete game - before succumbing to shoulder issues in June.
Arroyo, who is also a musician, played a post-game concert with his band in September 2017, after declining an offer by the Reds to pitch a final game. The day following his concert, he formally announced his retirement.
The 40-year-old would end his career after the 2017 season, finishing with a 148-137 record in 419 games that included 383 starts and 2,435.2 innings. He wrapped-up his career with a just-above average 101 ERA+ behind a 4.28 ERA and 1.301 WHIP. In total, he was credited with 23.4 bWAR and 21.6 fWAR.
Of his career totals, 279 starts were made with the Reds, during which he complied a 108-100 record with a 4.18 ERA good for a 102 ERA+.
Although he did not pitch for the Braves, he allowed the Braves to take a flier on the former first round pick, Toussaint. Ultimately, Toussaint did not find success with Atlanta, but he was a key prospect in the rebuild era, and his acquisition likely would not have occurred had the Braves not been willing to take on Arroyo’s contact.
Additionally, part of the return from Arroyo’s trade from Atlanta included a pick that was used on another rebuild era prospect, pitcher Joey Wentz, who is now with the Detroit Tigers.
Arroyo will be one-and-done on this year’s ballot as his on-the-field achievements don’t hold a Hall of Fame pedigree. He was, however, a durable starting pitcher for more than a decade with a colorful off-the-field persona.