Austin Adams (adamsau02)

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Austin Lance Adams

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Austin Adams was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 8th round of the 2012 amateur draft; the scout was Tom Kotchman. On December 10, 2016, he was traded with Kyle McGowin to the Washington Nationals for infielder Danny Espinosa. Two months later, the Angels got back into the Austin Adams business by making a deal with the Cleveland Indians to acquire the other Austin Adams.

In this Austin's major league debut for the Nationals against the Cincinnati Reds on July 15, 2017, he failed to retire a batter. Coming on in relief to start the bottom of the 8th with a 10-0 lead, the first batter he faced, Patrick Kivlehan reached on an error by shortstop Adrián Sánchez. He then walked Stuart Turner and uncorked a wild pitch to allow both batters to advance 90 feet before hitting Adam Duvall with a pitch. Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez followed with back-to-back run scoring singles and he was replaced by Oliver Pérez who retired the next three batters without further damage. Adams appeared in 8 more games between 2017 and 2019 with the Nats, logging a 3.86 ERA in 7 innings total. On May 4, 2019, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for minor leaguer Nick Wells. Becoming a key component in the team's bullpen (2-2, 3.77 in 31 innings), his campaign came to a close following a torn ACL in September. He underwent reconstructive surgery after the season.

He was still recovering at the start of the 2020 season and had not been activated when he was part of a seven-player trade with the San Diego Padres on August 30th. He joined C Austin Nola and P Dan Altavilla in heading to San Diego in return for P Andres Munoz, IF Ty France, C Luis Torrens and OF Taylor Trammell. He pitched three times for his new team after the trade, with a 4.50 ERA in 4 innings. He then topped that with four appearances in the postseason, two each in the Wild Card Series against the St. Louis Cardinals and in the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving up 1 run in 1 2/3 innings.

In 2021, he briefly escaped the anonymity that is the fate of most middle relievers when people began noticing in late August that he was leading the majors in Hit batsmen, in spite of a low total of innings pitched (17 in 44 1/3 innings as of August 25th). As a basis of comparison, the highest total by a pitcher since the end of the deadball era was 23 - in 279 2/3 innings - by Howard Ehmke, in 1923, and among pitchers with 21 or more in a season, the lowest innings total was 211 by Kerry Wood in 2003. He was miles ahead of any other pitcher with 17 HBPs, the next most prolific pitcher in this department having been Jerome Williams, who had still needed 129 1/3 innings to achieve the mark in 2004. Moreover, it's not that Adams was a reincarnation of Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn: he was actually pitching quite well in spite of all the ball marks on his opponents. His WHIP was 1.06 and he was striking out almost 14 batters per 9 innings. Coming into the season, he had only hit two batters in his career (spanning just 42 innings, given his recurring health issues), but that was before he developed a wicked slider that was largely unhittable, but had a tendency to sail into both left-handed and right-handed batters. On September 12th, he tied Ehmke with his 23rd hit batsman of the year. His final HBP of the season was on September 17, against Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals in the bottom of the 8th inning. Adams finished the season with 24 HBPs, a new record in the live-ball era.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jason Catania: "The pitcher with most HBPs is ... a reliever?! This setup man has one of MLB's best pitches -- and it's leaving a mark",, August 25, 2021. [1]
  • Greg Johns: "Same name, same position ... different players? Mariners' Austin Adams opposes Twins' Austin Adams in Seattle",, May 17, 2019. [2]

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