Dustin Nippert

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Dustin David Nippert

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Biographical Information[edit]

Dustin Nippert pitched over 100 games in the majors, spread over six seasons, then starred in South Korea. His brother Derik Nippert spent four seasons in the minors.

He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 15th round of the 2002 amateur draft, one pick before Gaby Sanchez. He was signed by scout Greg Lonigro and made his pro debut that summer, going 4-2 with a 1.65 ERA for the Missoula Osprey with 77 K to 9 BB in 54 2/3 IP. He was second in the Pioneer League in whiffs, 14 behind Charles Talanoa and led in K/IP. He did well with the 2003 South Bend Silver Hawks (6-4, 2.82, 96 K in 95 2/3 IP) but missed time with injury when a golf ball-sized tumor was removed from his right shoulder. He was 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. He fanned 30 in 30 innings, finishing third in the AFL in Ks. Baseball America rated him as the AFL's top right-handed pitching prospect, as having the best breaking ball in the loop and the #2 fastball. They said he had the best curveball of a Diamondbacks minor leaguer, was Arizona's #3 prospect and the #83 prospect in all of baseball.

Nippert had an off-season for the 2004 El Paso Diablos at 2-5, 3.64 before his season ended with Tommy John surgery. Baseball America still listed him as the 20th-best prospect in the Texas League and as having the best curveball in the Diamondbacks farm system. In 2005, he went 8-3 with a 2.36 ERA for the Tennessee Smokies, leading the Southern League in ERA (.35 ahead of Renyel Pinto). He lost Pitcher of the Year and All-Star RHP honors to Ricky Nolasco, though. He was named Arizona's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Arizona made him a September call-up and he got three starts. In his MLB debut, he allowed a leadoff single to Nate McLouth and finished with three runs in five innings against the Pirates. He struck out and walked at the plate against Josh Fogg and left for PH Quinton McCracken with Arizona having pulled ahead, 4-3, but they wound up losing 8-7. He was 1-0 with a 5.52 ERA for the 2005 Diamondbacks, with 13 walks in 14 2/3 IP. His first big league win came against the Dodgers. He got his lone major league hit off Jose Acevedo.

Nippert slumped in 2006, going 13-8 with a 4.87 ERA for the Tucson Sidewinders and getting rocked in two spot starts for Arizona (0-2, 11.70, 15 H, 7 BB, 5 HR in 10 IP). He still was third in the D'backs chain in victories, behind Micah Owings and Greg Smith. He tied for first in wins in the 2006 PCL, even with Francisco Cruceta, Jason Hirsh, Dustin Moseley and Jason Windsor. He was 2-0 with a 0.83 ERA in the postseason as Tucson won the PCL title.

He spent most of 2007 with the Diamondbacks in the bullpen (1-1, 5.56 in 36 G) and pitched 10 games for Tucson (0-3, 4.75). He pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings in the 2007 NLCS, allowing a hit and fanning two. Arizona dealt him to the Texas Rangers for Jose Marte. On June 29, 2008, Nippert threw a 7-inning no-hitter for the Oklahoma RedHawks over the Omaha Royals. It was the first no-hitter in RedHawks history. He was 6-2 for Oklahoma and 3-5 with a 6.40 ERA in 20 games (6 starts) for the 2008 Rangers. He had one seven-inning relief stint, the longest by a Rangers pitcher in six years, since Joaquin Benoit had also gone seven. He was 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League.

In 2009, Nippert pitched for the Frisco RoughRiders (0-1, 2.84 in 4 G), Oklahoma City (1-0, 1 R in 5 IP) and the Rangers (5-3, 3.88 in 20 G, 10 St). His 120 ERA+ was the best of his big league career. His 7.69 K/9 ratio led Rangers starters. He became only the second Rangers pitcher to fan 10+ in a game while working 6 or fewer innings and lose, following Nolan Ryan (who had done it twice). He barely was in the minors in 2010, with brief stints for Frisco (0 R in 3 1/3 IP, 7 K) and the RedHawks (0 R in 3 IP, 3 K) while going 4-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 38 games (two starts) for the 2010 Rangers (105 ERA+). When he won a game on June 30, it set a Rangers record for wins in a month (21). He allowed two runs in one inning in the 2010 ALDS1.

He was 14-16 with a 5.31 ERA (87 ERA+) in 119 major league games (23 starts) and 40-28 with a 3.40 ERA in 121 minor league games (109 starts).

He signed with the Doosan Bears for 2011. On Opening Day, he tossed five shutout innings to beat the LG Twins. He had a very good campaign at 15-6, 2.55. He was second in the league in ERA (.10 behind Suk-min Yoon), tied Won-jun Chang for third in wins and tied Ben Jukich for second with 150 strikeouts. In 2012, he fell a bit to 11-10, 3.20. He tied Jukich, Anthony Lerew, Andy Van Hekken and Brian Gordon for 7th in wins, was 9th in strikeouts (126) and 9th in ERA (between Yoon and Young-soo Bae). He allowed six runs in 6 1/3 IP in the postseason.

The West Virginian had a 12-4, 3.58 record for Doosan in the 2013 KBO regular season, tying for 7th in wins with Brandon Knight, Jae-kuk Ryu, Van Hekken and Seung Song. He was 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in the postseason. In game 2 of the 2013 Korean Series, he tossed six shutout innings against the Samsung Lions but was matched by Rick van den Hurk. He then got the nod in game 6 with a chance to give Doosan the Series but lost and Doosan fell in 7; a two-run homer by Tae-in Chae in the 6th put the Lions ahead for good.

Nippert was 14-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 2014, putting him among the KBO leaders in wins (3rd, behind Van Hekken and Hyeon-jong Yang), ERA (5th, between Charlie Shirek and Cory Riordan) and strikeouts (158, 4th, between Yang and Kwang-hyun Kim). In 2015, he was 6-5 with a 5.10 ERA, missing time to injury after being hit by a drive from Brad Snyder. He returned to dominate in the postseason, going 3-0 with a 0.56 ERA and 15 H in 32 1/3 IP. He set a KBO record with 26 1/3 consecutive shutout innings in the postseason, including 7 in game 2 of the 2015 Korean Series and 2 1/3 in relief in game 5 as Doosan beat Samsung to take the title. He did not win Korean Series MVP, which went to Soo-bin Jung.

In 2016, turning 35 years old, he was as fresh as ever or even fresher, going 22-3 with a 2.95 ERA. 11 years after his prior ERA title, he won a second one, leading Chang by .37. He also led in wins, four ahead of Michael Bowden and became the third American-raised hurler to top 20 wins in the KBO, following Danny Rios and Van Hekken. He was 7th with 142 K, between Ryan Feierabend and Hector Noesi. He, Bowden, Chang and Hee-kwan Yoo became the first quartet of teammates to win 15+ games in a KBO season, all finishing in the top 5 in wins. The staff continued their dominance into the 2016 Korean Series as they held the NC Dinos to two runs in four games in a sweep; Nippert allowed two hits in eight innings in the opener but got a no-decision as Zach Stewart was as sharp. He turned the ball over to Yong-chan Lee in the 9th to put him at 34 1/3 consecutive shutout innings in the postseason. Nippert was named the KBO MVP for 2016, the fourth foreign player to win the award (following Tyrone Woods, Rios and Eric Thames). He had 642 vote points, beating out Hyung-woo Choi by 112; he had 62 first-place votes to Choi's 35. He also run away with the KBO Gold Glove as the top pitcher, with 314 of 345 votes to 15 for runner-up Noesi.


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