Former first overall pick and nine-year MLB veteran Luke Hochevar has decided to hang up his spikes, he tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. He spent his entire career with the Royals, who selected him in the 2006 draft out of the University of Tennessee.
Hochevar was said to be pursuing a comeback earlier this year after undergoing a procedure to address thoracic outlet syndrome. But he was still experiencing pain when he attempted to throw despite being two years removed from the surgery.
Now 34 years of age, Hochevar made it to the majors after just 34 minor-league appearances. But he failed to gain traction as a starter, struggling mightily in that role before moving into the bullpen for the 2013 season.
That campaign turned into a coming-out party for Hochevar, who spun 70 1/3 innings of 1.92 ERA ball with 10.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. But he missed the ensuing campaign after requiring Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for the club’s exciting run to the World Series and again putting his future in doubt as he entered free agency.
Hochevar ultimately decided to stay in Kansas City. Despite the health uncertainty, the club promised him $10MM on a two-year deal, which included a club option for 2017.
That decision worked out for all involved. Hochevar threw 88 innings of 3.78 ERA ball, with 9.1 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9, over the two guaranteed seasons of the contract. More importantly, he contributed 10 2/3 scoreless innings over nine postseason appearances in 2015, including five clean frames in the Royals’ successful return to the World Series.
In the end, Hochevar wraps up his playing career with 929 1/3 innings of 4.98 ERA pitching. That’s undoubtedly not what he or the K.C. org anticipated at the outset. But all’s well that ends well; he helped the team reach the promised land and tells Flanagan that he’ll retire feeling “grateful for the time I had in this game.” MLBTR wishes Hochevar the best in his new endeavors.
Because of who was drafted behind him, is Hochevar a bust?
He had a 9 yr career and won a World Series, but with Longoria, Kershaw, Lincecum, Scherzer drafted behind him…
Pitches Love Velocity
Hard to say.
A. He was rushed to the majors- 34 minor league appearances is unheard of in todays world of development.
B. Injuries wound up derailing a promising relief career.
@ Pitches Love Velocity.
34 minor league starts (for Hochevar) is actually not that uncommon for 1st overall picks.
Both David Price and Gerrit Cole only had 20 to 40 starts before being called up to the majors.
Even more amazingly, Chris Sale had roughly 15 innings in the minors before being called up.
I wouldn’t say Hochevar was rushed at all.
Probably, but he got a ring and millions to play a game. Most people would love to be a “bust” like him.
Marge Schott's Lovechild
I do not believe Hochevar was a bust. Brien Taylor and Bryan Bullington were busts.
Yeah, it totally depends on your definition of a bust. There’s definitely a difference between not living up to expectations and being an outright bust. He didn’t live up to being a #1 pick but he had a few quality years anyway.
If Taylor knew how to fight he wouldn’t have been.
I’d say so. This isn’t to say he was Bryan Bullington levels of being a bust, but when you go 1st overall and end up with an ERA just barely south of 5.00 and just one very good season with two more decent ones (none of which even came as a starter), it’s certainly a big disappointment. He won a ring and made lots of money, however, so I think he can still sleep well at night even if he is a bit of a bust.
I think he’s a bust more so because of the almost 5 ERA. No offense to him but you can’t carry that high of an ERA without being looked at as a miss in the draft. That being said, he did have a 9 year career that probably didn’t cost the Royals much financially. It’s not like they shelled out millions for him like Mark Appel.
Never forget Hochevar reneging on his agreement with Dodgers after being its first rd draft pick. Turned out well for Dodgers.
Has Kershaw won a World Series for LA?
I hate when people reply with things like this. They’re a lot closer to winning a title with Kershaw than they would have been with Hochevar.
The Royals wouldn’t of won the World Series without Hochevar on their team. He was a very important piece of their postseason.
Wouldn’t they have had both? Not or?
I’m sure they could’ve easily replaced Hochevar with another quality reliever and still won.
Has Trout won one for the Angels? Has Scherzer for Detroit or Washington? What about Stanton in Miami? I don’t know what your point is.
You worded that a lot better than I did but you made the same point I was trying to
Hochevar did not reach his potential as a starter but without him in the bullpen, maybe KC does not win the 2015 WS. Hochevar’s stuff wasn’t good enough to get him through a lineup two-three times but he was a weapon in shorter stints, like Andrew Miller and Wade Davis. Once he found the role that worked best for him, he was able to help the team win. Good for him. You can’t call Hochevar a bust because he had played a big part in winning a championship.
You can count on less than one hand how many times the number one pick ended up being the best in that draft. Hochever was a good pick-rushing him had little to do with his career-it was a very bad royals team so there was no pressure to perform. Plus he was a college pitcher so his maturity level was better than a 18 or 19 year old. There just isn’t a way to predict injuries. No injuries and he would have had a fine career.
Yeah, in no way was he a bust. You play an important role on a team that wins a championship and no way can you ever be called a bust. It’s a sad state that you even have to have this discussion. Drafting high school aged talent or even college talent is not a precise science.
Agreed. Though had he come into the league five years prior to when he did, and had the exact same career, I believe he would have been considered a huge bust, mainly because it is only in the last few years that people have really come to appreciate how important a strong pen can be. He would have been remembered as a failed starter, instead of as a pitcher who was key to a team’s championship chances.
Got 30 million and a ring. Not bad
Greg Reynolds and Brad Lincoln were the next two pitchers drafted that year after Hochevar. These teams had their reasons at the time.
Hochevar had a nice career. Had some good seasons in the bullpen and helped KC win the World Series. Still hasn’t given up a run in the playoffs. That’s not bad. Now, because of his draft position and the LA Dodgers situation the previous year, a lot more was expected. Still, nice career for Hochevar.
Happy trails, sir. May your happiness be as plentiful as the pronunciations of your name.
Come on, “Luke” isn’t that hard to pronounce.
Ha! Excellent retort.
First overall picks worse than Hochevar: B. Taylor, Abner, Aiken, Appel, Bush, Bullington, Matt Anderson, Paul Wilson, Al Chambers, Goodwin, Almon, Clyde, Dave Roberts (the 70s one), Chilcott. Danny Goodwin gets extra credit for being drafted first overall two times.
First overall picks better than Hochevar, objectively or by WAR (the draft has only existed since 1965): Monday, Jeff Burroughs, Baines, Floyd Bannister, Horner, Strawberry, Mike Moore, Dunston, Belcher, Surhoff, Jeff King, Griffey Jr, McDonald, Benes, Chipper, Nevin, ARod, Erstad, Burrell, Hamilton, Agon, Mauer, JUp, Price, Stras, Harper, Cole, Correa.
First overall picks that are probably tied with Hochevar: Foli, Blomberg, Ivie, Tim Beckham.
If Hochevar had gotten into a major league system earlier – when he should have- he might have had a career.
Hochevar is in the bottom third of first overall picks, which isn’t really that bad.
Dude was an MLB regular for nine seasons. Busts are guys with expectations who never put on a uniform or at least never establish themselves.
No Soup For Yu!
He certainly won’t be mentioned among the better first overall picks, but I think even if you gave the Royals a chance to redo that selection they wouldn’t do it because there’s no guarantee that they win the World Series without him. He didn’t have the greatest career, but he helped the team that put so much stock in his talent win a championship, and that’s enough.
Lifelong Royals fan. He was a disappointment with the first pick you would hope better. It is all a roll of the dice. Many passed on the best player in a long time Mike Trout years later.
Trout was a unique case; yes, he may end up the best player of all time but he came from a cold-weather state and lots of scouts just didn’t see him enough.
I saw Hochevar pitch in Toronto some years ago. The Royals were in the midst of a string of awful seasons. My friend asked if he was any good. I replied, “He is the worst opening day starter in all of baseball.”
I was stunned when he became an excellent reliever. But glad he had found a role that suited him well. Unfortunately, elbow surgery ended that.
He had one special year and made a surprising amount of money. Good for him.
The only year that Hochevar was the opening day starter was in 2011, and they played the Angels. Maybe it was a home opener for you guys?
I didn’t mean to imply it was at the home opener, but I saw him the same year. It wasn’t his fault he was the opener but the choice was symptomatic of the sad state of the team. Back then, it seemed everyone in the KC lineup slugged under .400. It was a long way from the fiesty teams of the 1980s.