Every time a team tries to take Bartolo Colon out back and put him out of his misery, his puppy dog eyes and pork-filled belly just won’t let them.
The lone remaining Montreal Expo who’s amassed 235 wins so far in his career has proven doubters wrong and has done it with 285 pounds of grace.
He was designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves and ultimately released before being signed by AAA Rochester of the Minnesota Twins organization before ultimately getting his contract purchased by the Twins.
Colon, 44, has defied the odds every time there’s been any doubt that his stuff is gone. When he missed all of 2010 after injuring his elbow and had an up-and-down 2011 with the New York Yankees before signing with the Oakland A’s in 2012, many wrote him off. That’s where his first resurgence occurred. Before joining the A’s, Colon already had two All-Star appearances on his resume. One in 1998 with the Cleveland Indians and his second in 2005 when he was with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Colon led a band of misfit pitchers in 2012 with Oakland and was a decade older than every pitcher that had a start for the A’s that season. Colon had a 10-9 record for the elephants, according to Baseball Reference, so nothing too special, but in 2013 he had an even better season.
In 2013, Bartolo Colon finished with an 18-6 record and a 2.65 ERA. He also had a 1.66 WHIP. But, the best stat Colon achieved that year was earning an All-Star selection. Not only was it his third selection, but it made him an All-Star in three different decades. His win total also gave him three different decades with an 18-win season.
According to a CBS Sports article from 2016, Colon is currently one of just three players who debuted in the ’90s to still be playing; the others are Carlos Beltran and Adrian Beltre (at the time of the article, he was one of seven).
What’s the key to Colon’s success, though? Is it the flabby belly, the quirky sense of humor or the artistry he possesses as he uses every victory’s ball as his canvas.
Colon’s resiliency is something every player could learn from. He was critiqued for his size and shape for much of his career but continued to throw — and throw strikes.
Colon’s career strike percentage is right about 67 percent, according to Fangraphs. In 2014, Grantland posted an article that stated strike % averaged about 63.5 percent that year, which was an increase from about 62 percent in 2002. While, that stat isn’t surprising, the biggest feat Colon has accomplished is the ability to finesse batters.
His fastball has averaged just around 92 miles per hour for the last decade, in a league where speed is the sexiest thing around. But, for Big Sexy that just isn’t the case and it’s proven to work.
While he may not be having a good season this year, he’s not even a year removed from his run with the New York Mets when he appeared in his first World Series, hit his first homer of his now 20-year career and won fans over with his version of the Truffle Shuffle.
It may not be a glamorous career like say a Derek Jeter has had, but as it’s now spanned 20 seasons and nine teams, Bartolo Colon’s career is a thing of beauty.
Featured Image: 2016 Topps Now #57