One of the top pitcher in the early days of the American League, Addie Joss was a star for the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, his career, and life, was cut short by illness.
Addie Joss was one of the top pitchers in his era. A rookie with the Cleveland Indians in 1902, he performed well from the start, posting a 17-13 record with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.114 WHiP. Joss tied for the team lead in wins, and had the second best ERA of any pitcher with at least five appearances with the club.
That performance was just the beginning. In his nine year career, his next 2.26 ERA in 1910 was the second highest of his career. Joss won 20 or more games for four consecutive years, with an American League leading 27 victories in 1907. Yet, it was his 1908 season, where he posted a 1.16 ERA and a 0.806 WHiP en route to a 24-11 record that was his best in his career. He finished out that season in style, firing a perfect game on October 2 against the Chicago White Sox.
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Unfortunately, just when Joss seemed as though he would be remembered as one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, his career came to an end. He developed an arm injury during the 1910 season, causing him to make just 13 appearances that year. Then, just when it seemed as though he would return for the 1911 campaign, he became ill towards the end of Spring Training. Just a few days later, Joss passed away, striken down by meningitis at just 30 years old.
As it was, Joss still had an incredible career. In his nine year career, he posted a 160-97 record. His 0.968 WHiP is the best in baseball history of any pitcher with a minimum of 1000 innings, and his 1.89 lifetime ERA trails only Ed Walsh for the all time mark. Joss was truly a star.
In fact, he was such a dominant pitcher that, even though he failed to have a ten year career, he still received support for the Hall of Fame. Eventually, after years of campaigning by several prominent sportswriters, Joss was inducted into the Hall in 1978, as he took his rightful place amongst baseball’s immortals.
Yet, for as impressive as Joss’ career was, one has to wonder what would have been. If he had another nine years at the same caliber of how he performed during his career, he would have been considered one of the best pitchers of all time. Instead, we are left wondering what if.