Paul Gregory Byrd
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 185 lb.
- School Louisiana State University
- High School St. Xavier High School
- Debut July 28, 1995
- Final Game October 3, 2009
- Born December 3, 1970 in Louisville, KY USA
Stoneman kicked some dirt on the mound with his patent-leather shoe before adding, "If you look at pitchers in the olden days, they all had the same windup. They went over their head before they delivered the ball to the plate. But if you look around the game today, nobody does it anymore. The only guy who still does it is Paul Byrd. Do you guys know him?" ... "He's a pitcher for the Royals," Stoneman said as he folded his arms. "Guys call him 'Frasier'. He looks just like Kelsey Grammer and he's got one of the most durable arms in the game. Is it a coincidence that guys in the past could throw until the cows came home? I don't know... All I'm saying is that guys fifty years ago weren't going under the knife as much as they are today. And maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the windup." Less than a year later I found myself chuckling at another player's misfortune. I opened the sports pages in July 2003 to find that Paul Byrd, despite his injury-proof delivery, had just suffered a traumatic elbow injury while pitching and would require season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery." - Matt McCarthy, from his memoir Odd Man Out
Paul Byrd was a starting pitcher for a number of teams over a 14-year career. Byrd had an old-fashioned overhand delivery and worked slowly. Though never dominating, he proved to be a solid pitcher who could be counted on to "eat innings." He threw a fastball in the low 90s, along with a slider, change-up and a sinker that he threw to left-handed hitters.
Byrd graduated from St. Xavier High School in Louisville and was selected in the 13th round (332nd overall) of the 1988 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He did not sign, instead attending LSU where he pitched as part of the Tiger team that won the 1991 College World Series. In the 1990 Baseball World Cup, Byrd was 1-0 with a 5.11 ERA for Team USA. He also was with the US for a Bronze Medal in the 1990 Goodwill Games. He was drafted again in the 4th round of the 1991 amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians.
Byrd spent five years in the minor leagues before being traded to the New York Mets and making his major league debut on July 28, 1995. He pitched out of the bullpen for two years until becoming a starter in 1998 for the AAA Richmond Braves. Near the end of the season, he was selected off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. In 8 starts, he posted a 5-2 record with a 2.29 ERA. Byrd followed with an All-Star season in 1999, with a 15-11 record in 199 2/3 innings. Byrd only answered the bell for 17 games in 2000, finishing with a 2-9 record and a 6.51 ERA. In 2001 he continued to pitch poorly, and was traded to the Kansas City Royals for journeyman reliever Jose Santiago.
Byrd got his act together with his new team, with a 4.05 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) with a 6-6 record to close 2001. He re-signed with K.C., posting All-Star-level numbers in 2002: 17-11 record, 3.90 ERA and a career best 129 strikeouts in 228 1/3 innings. That year, he also threw a league-leading 7 complete games with 2 shutouts. In 2003, he blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery on July 1st. In the off-season, he signed with the Atlanta Braves for two years and $10 million. Byrd missed the entire season except for one start for the AA Greenville Braves. He returned to the Braves in 2004 and in 19 starts was 8-7 in 114 1/3 innings. That off-season, the Anaheim Angels signed him to a one-year, $5-million contract, following the trade of right-handed pitcher Ramon Ortiz to the Cincinnati Reds. He went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 205 innings in 2005, finishing second in the AL with 21 quality starts.
After the season, Paul signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Indians and joined their starting rotation. He made 31 starts in both 2006 and 2007, going 10-9 the first year and 15-8 the second, with ERAs in the upper 4.00s, slightly worse than league average. He gave up the fewest bases on balls per 9 innings of any American League starting pitcher in 2007 and his 2 shutouts were the most in the league. On October 21, 2007, Byrd admitted to using Human Growth Hormone (HGH) from 2002-2005, saying he had a doctor's permission due to a pituitary gland condition. Byrd said he stopped buying HGH when it was banned by Major League Baseball in 2005. Nonetheless, he would be named in the Mitchell Report two months later. He split the 2008 season between Cleveland (7-10 in 22 starts) and the Boston Red Sox (4-2 in 8 starts). He did not have any offers to pitch early in 2009, but the Red Sox brought him back in August as they dealt with injuries and he closed his career going 1-3 in 7 games with Boston.
- NL All-Star (1999)
- AL Complete Games Leader (2002)
- AL Shutouts Leader (2007)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 3 (1999, 2002 & 2007)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (2002 & 2005)