Dodgers Rich Hill Just Getting Started All Over Again

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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Rich Hill
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Rich Hill /
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After hoisting a gaggle of elder statesmen on the Braves in a recent trade with Atlanta, the Dodgers have somehow very rapidly made themselves into a younger club. As a direct result, Rich Hill is suddenly no spring chicken.

Los Angeles is home to innumerable health food outlets serving wheatgrass, countless gyms touting the latest exercise fads, and an ever-increasing number of cosmetic surgery clinics lining the boulevards of Beverly Hills. In this city, appearances are deceiving and age is but an illusion.

Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill is only 37 years young. It’s a great age to be – an age that, once you are older than, you would enjoy being again. However, on a young team that has an average age of 27, by comparison, Hill is downright decrepit.

Though Rich Hill has been consistently good for the Dodgers already, there’s still reason to believe that the best is yet to come. Hill is one of those rare players that improve with age like a fine wine. Since his return to the pros from the independent league Long Island Ducks, he’s produced drastically better results than what had been his career numbers up until that point. Rich Hill has pitched a total of 274.3 innings over the past there years. He has racked up 331 strikeouts during that time period with only 87 walks.  He also has a 26-14 win-loss record to pair with a radiant 2.66 ERA in that time frame.

While there’s certainly no mistaking Rich Hill for Cy Young, with a healthy season, it is not out of the realm of possibility to imagine him receiving some votes for the award one of these years. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey won his Cy Young trophy after the 2012 season. Dickey was 38 when he won the award after pitching all that season as a 37 year old. Roger “Asterisk” Clemens is the oldest Cy winner at 42 [cough] and Gaylord Perry won in 1978 at age 40. There have been Cy Young recipients that aren’t so young is what I’m saying. The problem with Hill, though, has been keeping him healthy and in games more than twice through the opposing team’s batting order.

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Perhaps going deeper into games is the motivation behind Rich’s MLB #NoOffseason campaign and promotional video. You can’t accuse Hill of aging prematurely from what I’ve seen. His arm also doesn’t have the millage that a pitcher who’s been in the game as long as he’s been usually has. Hill was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 4th round out of the University of Michigan In 2002. He has accumulated only 746 innings pitched in the major leagues since then. To put it in perspective, Clayton Kershaw reached that total about five games into the 2012 season, his fifth as a pro.

The fact that Rich Hill is the oldest member of the Dodgers is tribute to the youth overhaul performed by the Dodgers’ front office over the past three years. His age does not, in the least, imply that he is in any way, shape, or form over the hill.

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With the next youngest Dodger being Matt Kemp at age 33, Hill is the Dodgers’ wise old sage. That belies the fact that he may not have even reached his peak, yet.

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