Ryan Dempster won the most games of any almost .500 pitcher

Ryan Dempster pitching in the 2013 World Series

Ryan Dempster pitching in the 2013 World Series

Ryan Dempster is one of baseball’s good guys and his presence played an important role in last season’s Red Sox World Championship season. While Dempster wasn’t outstanding on the mound, his veteran presence and sense of humor played an important part in GM Ben Cherington‘s and Manager John Farrell‘s 2013 chemistry lab.

But Dempster has decided to take this season (and probably this career) off.  Unexpectedly, on Sunday, at a news conference at Sox camp in Fort Myers, Fla., Dempster described physical problems with his neck as one reason for his decision. But clearly the primary reason for Dempster, was so that he could spend more time with his children, one of whom has a rare disorder.

For the Red Sox staff, Dempster was most likely the sixth wheel of a rotation that consists of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront (as well as a bevy of youngsters ready, and almost ready, to find a regular slot). But Dempster will perhaps be contributing to the Sox in a fashion that far exceeds that of many of the players on the active roster. Dempster opted not to go on the Disabled List , which he could have, but making this announcement he goes on the Restricted List and is walking away from the $13.25 million  left from the second-year of the two-year contract he signed before last season.

“I’ve been really fortunate, extremely lucky, extremely humbled by the amount of money I have made that has provided for me and my family for years and years. The money was not that difficult a decision,” Dempster told the press.

The money saved will give the Sox about $20 million all told to make a mid-season acquisition, something they very well may need in their attempt to go back-to-back.

The baseball gods are crazy

Before emotion overtook Dempster at his press conference, as he looked at all the teammates who had gathered to offer him support,  Dempster joked about telling manager John Farrell he’d have to find another Opening Day starter. He also said that his career had not been great, just long.

Dempster was right.

He’s a 16-year veteran righty, whose 2013 season of 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 157 strikeouts in 171.1 IP was a reflection of his career. If Dempster is done, he finishes with a record of 132-133 (and 87 saves) with a 4.35 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 2075 strikeouts in 2387 innings.

He’s a good guy who does a great impression of Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray, who is doing more than one decent thing in this decision, so I ask you this question…

Would it have killed the baseball gods to let him finish with a .500 record?

The almost .500 club

Minimum 125 starts

Nobody won more games than Ryan Dempster and George Mogridge and finished just one game under .500.

Rk Player W L W-L% From To SV ERA Tm
1 Ryan Dempster 132 133 .498 1998 2013 87 4.35 FLA-TOT-CIN-CHC-BOS
2 George Mogridge 132 133 .498 1911 1927 20 3.23 CHW-NYY-WSH-TOT-BSN
3 Larry Benton 127 128 .498 1923 1935 22 4.03 BSN-TOT-NYG-CIN
4 Jon Matlack 125 126 .498 1971 1983 3 3.18 NYM-TEX
5 Johnny Vander Meer 119 121 .496 1937 1951 2 3.44 CIN-CHC-CLE
6 Joe Horlen 116 117 .498 1961 1972 4 3.11 CHW-OAK
7 Fritz Ostermueller 114 115 .498 1934 1948 15 3.99 BOS-SLB-TOT-PIT
8 Richard Dotson 111 113 .496 1979 1990 0 4.23 CHW-NYY-TOT-KCR
9 Reggie Cleveland 105 106 .498 1969 1981 25 4.01 STL-BOS-TOT-MIL
10 Ismael Valdez 104 105 .498 1994 2005 1 4.09 LAD-TOT-ANA-TEX-FLA
11 Wandy Rodriguez 91 92 .497 2005 2013 0 4.01 HOU-TOT-PIT
12 Tom Underwood 86 87 .497 1974 1984 18 3.89 PHI-TOT-TOR-NYY-OAK-BAL
13 Paul Foytack 86 87 .497 1953 1964 7 4.14 DET-TOT-LAA
14 Blue Moon Odom 84 85 .497 1964 1976 1 3.70 KCA-OAK-TOT-CHW
15 Brian Anderson 82 83 .497 1993 2005 1 4.74 CAL-CLE-ARI-TOT-KCR
16 Danny Cox 74 75 .497 1983 1995 8 3.64 STL-PHI-TOT-TOR
17 Ted Power 68 69 .496 1981 1993 70 4.00 LAD-CIN-TOT-STL-PIT-CLE
18 Ed Wells 68 69 .496 1923 1934 13 4.65 DET-NYY-SLB
19 Pascual Perez 67 68 .496 1980 1991 0 3.44 PIT-ATL-MON-NYY
20 Mike Fornieles 63 64 .496 1952 1963 55 3.96 WSH-CHW-TOT-BOS
21 Johnny Rigney 63 64 .496 1937 1947 5 3.59 CHW
22 Jim Bouton 62 63 .496 1962 1978 6 3.57 NYY-TOT-HOU-ATL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/17/2014.