Oct 20, 2012

1999 NL Wild Card Mets Pitcher: Billy Taylor (1999)

William Howell Taylor was born October 16, 1961 in Monticello, Florida. The towering six foot eight right hander was originally signed as a hard throwing right hander by the Texas Rangers in the second round of the 1980 draft. He spent all of the 1980’s in the Rangers minor leagues as both a starter & reliever. A decade later he was sent to the Atlanta Braves organization & toiled there in the minors as well due to their pitching rich talent of the early nineties.

In that time he became one of the best closers at the AA level. In 1993, at the age of 31, he was an AAA All-Star, saved 26 games with a 1.98 ERA, winning the league's reliever of the year award. In October of 1993 he signed as a free agent with the Oakland A’s & made his big league debut the next season at age 32, after fourteen seasons in the minors. Taylor pitched the 7th inning on an Opening Day loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He remained on the club until July going 1-3 in 41 appearances before being sent down again. He spent all of 1995 in the minors & got another break in 1996 getting to the A’s staff going 6-3 taking over as the teams closer.

He would save 25 games that season, then move on to posting 25 or more saves over the next three years. He came in the AL’s top ten twice in saves in those years, as well as in games finished. In 1999 he had 26 saves but his record dropped to 1-5 with a 3.98 with Oakland. On July 31st he was sent to the New York Mets in exchange for Jason Isringhausen & Greg McMichael. Izzy went on to make a remarkable comeback saving 33 games in Oakland the next season.

By the time Taylor had arrived in New York he was 38 years old & was losing his fastball. He made his Mets debut on August 1st at Wrigley Field in Chicago, pitching the 10th inning while getting credit for a hold. It was his only official stat in his Mets career, besides a blown save where he took the loss on August 7th to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 18 appearances he posted an 8.10 ERA, allowing 12 earned runs with two HRs, in 13 innings pitched, while striking out 15. At the end of the season he was granted free agency & did not make the post season roster.

He signed with the Colorado Rockies, the pitched briefly with the Tampa Rays & Pittsburgh Pirates ending his seven season career in 2001.

In a seven year career Taylor was 16-28 with 100 career saves (125th all time). He posted a 4.21 ERA striking out 307 batters walking 133 in 324 innings over 317 appearances.

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