Eppa Rixey was a rare, straight-from-college signee in 1912. Rixey wasted no time establishing himself in the Majors, winning ten games in his rookie season with a 2.50 ERA. Rixey would be a key on the staff that took the 1915 club to the World Series but lost his only decision, the series-ending Game 5, to the Red Sox. Rixey would have his finest season in 1916, going 22-10 with a 1.85 ERA.
Rixey was named the 36th best Phillie of all-time in our Top 100 countdown last winter. Here is an excerpt from that post:
Rixey would be a hidden gem on the staffs of the successful 1910′s Phillies’ squads. Despite leading the National League in losses in 1917 with 21, Rixey posted a 2.27 ERA and a 1.123 WHIP. From 1912 through 1920, Rixey would rank seventh in the NL in fWAR, 23rd in WHIP, and 13th in starts and appearances. Rixey would be overshadowed, of course, by perhaps the best pitcher of that generation in the National League, Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won 207 games in the same span with a 2.00 ERA.
Rixey would be a big part of why the 1915 Phillies won the pennant. Rixey would have an even better 1916, posting a 1.85 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. Rixey would be one of many Phillies from the first quarter of the 20th century that would prove to have an even better career even after he left Philadelphia. Rixey would serve in the U.S. Army’s Chemical Warfare Division, missing the 1918 season. It looked like World War I may have slowed Rixey down: a rocky 6-12, 3.97 ERA 1919 and a slightly better 11-22, 3.48 ERA 1920 made some believe this.
The Phillies would trade Rixey before the 1921 after Rixey had butted heads with manager Gavvy Cravath to the Cincinnati Reds where he was reunited with the Phillies 1915 skipper Pat Moran. Rixey would be traded for #42 in the countdown Jimmy Ring and Greasy Neale. From 1921 through 1932, the National League average ERA was between 3.78 and 4.97, the Phillies’ average ERA was between 4.47 and 6.71 (!!), and Rixey’s ERA was 3.33. Oops.
Rixey would go on to win 179 games with the Cincinnati Reds in 13 seasons and retire as the all-time National League wins leader. He was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1963.