Todd Van Poppel Speaker Profile
Todd Van Poppel Biography
Todd Van Poppel was born December 9, 1971 in Hinsdale, Illinois and is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Oakland Athletics (1991, 1993-1996), Detroit Tigers (1996), Texas Rangers (1998, 2002-2003), Pittsburgh Pirates (1998), Chicago Cubs (2000-2001), and Cincinnati Reds (2003-2004). He retired during spring training with the New York Mets in 2005.
Van Poppel was the first of four starting pitchers selected by the A's in the first 36 picks of the 1990 draft, referred to at the time as The Four Aces. The other three draftees were Don Peters, Dave Zancanaro and Kirk Dressendorfer. All four struggled with injuries after being drafted, and only Van Poppel and Dressendorfer ever reached the major leagues.
Because Van Poppel was signed to a major league contract rather than the standard minor league contract, the A's only had a limited number of minor league options they could use on him. By all accounts, his lack of seasoning in the minors cost both the A's and Van Poppel. He pitched just 37.2 innings in Single-A in 1990, spent 1991 at Double-A Huntsville, and was hurt for much of 1992 at Triple-A Tacoma before splitting time between Oakland and Tacoma in 1993. In all, he made only 32 minor league starts.
Armed with a blazing fastball that had little movement, Van Poppel struggled with the A's -- his best season in Oakland was probably 1995, when he went 4-8 with a 4.88 ERA, splitting time as a starter and a reliever. He also notched 122 strikeouts (and 56 walks) in 138.1 innings that year.
In 1996, his numbers dropped sharply, and he was released by the A's mid-season. After unremarkable stops in Detroit, Texas and Pittsburgh, Van Poppel did have two successful years (2000 and 2001) as a middle reliever with the Cubs, before his effectiveness declined.
Van Poppel's career record was 40-52. He never won more than seven games in a season.
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