I was surprised that Kevin Brown had only 5 seasons of WAR above 5, which they consider an all-star level. The five started in 1996 at age 31 and were 5 consecutive years. It seemed like he was great a lot longer time than that. He always had good stuff and has some good years outside these five years, so he was considered a really good pitcher in other years. It was just he really put it together the other years. He did everything except win a World Series game.
Brown did well in post season. He just wasn’t the same pitcher in the World Series. He pitched in both World Series in his 5-year prime. In fact he pitched in the World Series two years in a row and went 0-3 in 4 starts. His World Series ERA was 6.04.
Even though Brown had two bad starts and lost both games in 1997, his Florida Marlins team won the World Series. Basically none of the starters on the Florida staff did a real good job. Levan Hernandez did the best and got two victories based as much on run support then how well he pitched. This was not a well-pitched series.
The next year, after the Marlins got rid of all their good players including Brown, Kevin helped San Diego get to the World Series. San Diego had to play the 1998 Yankees one of the greatest teams of all time. Manager Bruce Bochy new he had a great ace in Kevin Brown. Otherwise, the pitching staff was solid, but far from great. Bochy had it set up that Brown would start games 1, 4 and 7 if necessary. He was hoping for a Bob Gibson like performance out of Brown. The other thing Bochy had was his relief ace was Trevor Hoffman one of the greatest relievers of all time. It was also mentioned that Bochy wouldn’t be afraid to use him two innings.
Well game 1 was working out well. After giving up 2 runs in the second inning, Brown settled down and pitched real good baseball from the 3rd through the 6th. Meanwhile Greg Vaught hit two homeruns and Tony Gwynn hit 1 accounting for 5 runs and the Padres headed into the bottom of the seventh with a 5-2 lead and an 86 percent chance of winning the game. My guess was that Brown was going to pitch the seventh and if there was any trouble get Hoffman in there in the eighth.
However, after getting the first out, Brown gave up a single and walked number 9 hitter Rick Ledee. Ledee was a rookie who came up late and didn’t play much during the year. Now Bochy had to make a decision. The top of the order was coming up. Should he keep Brown in the game. Now remember Brown had already pitched before the game 25 innings in four post season starts. He also pitched 257 innings in the regular season. More important he wanted to use Brown in two more starts in the series. He had a three run lead and could use Hoffman in the eighth and ninth to finish up the game if the Yankees got a run or two.
However, the inning ended up being a disaster for San Diego. Chuck Knoblauch hit a three-run homer to tie the game. The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs. Tino Martinez then hit a grand slam after taking a pitch some thought was strike three. The Yankees then won the next two games.
San Diego started Brown but were wished they could have won one game before game four. He gave up only 1 run in 7 innings. Unfortunately, he was down 1-0. He then walked Jeter to lead off the eighth and Paul O’ Neil followed with a single. This time Bochy desperately kept Brown in the game. He gave up two runs. It didn’t matter much as the Padres didn’t score.
Actually, Brown didn’t pitch bad. He had a game score of 59 in game 4. However, he didn’t pitch great in either game of the World Series, which is what Bochy thought San Diego needed and it turned out it was what he needed.