John Wetteland carved out a tremendous career as one of baseball’s best closers in the 1990s. Before the likes of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman became full-fledged baseball legends, Wetteland was arguably baseball’s most fearsome shutdown closer.
A three-time All-Star and 1996 World Series MVP, John Wetteland earned over $30 million in his career.
Twenty years after throwing his final pitch in the Major Leagues, John Wetteland now faces the trial of his life.
John Wetteland was an All-Star closer in the 1990s
For many fans, John Wetteland’s reputation — fairly or unfairly — was the Yankees’ closer before Mariano Rivera took over in 1997. Wetteland actually was one of baseball’s best closers in the 1990s when the likes of Dennis Eckersley, Lee Smith, and other All-Stars retired.
Wetteland earned three All-Star nods in a 12-year career. He debuted with the 1989 Los Angeles Dodgers as a starter but turned into a full-time closer by 1992, his first year with the Expos.
John Wetteland had a 2.32 ERA and saved 105 games with the Expos, including 25 in the strike-shortened 1995 season. Wetteland joined the Yankees in 1995 and immediately helped the Bronx Bombers return to the postseason.
Wetteland’s 43-save season in 1996 earned him his first All-Star berth. Famously, Wetteland saved all four games in the 1996 World Series, the Yankees‘ first Fall Classic win since 1978.
Wetteland spent the final four years of his career in Texas. Although Wetteland was only 33 and saved 34 games in 2000, his 4.20 ERA was the highest he’d posted in a decade.
Wetteland’s contract expired that offseason, and he promptly retired.
Wetteland cashed in during his MLB career
John Wetteland earned over $33 million in his career, according to Baseball-Reference. Wetteland made over $2 million in each of his final seven seasons.
John Wetteland retired with a 48-45 record and a 2.93 ERA in 618 career games. His 330 saves still rank 15th on the all-time saves list entering the 2020 season.
Five closers in the top-15 are in the Hall of Fame; Billy Wagner, who ranks sixth with 422 saves, appeared on 31.7% percent of Hall of Fame ballots last year.
The Rangers inducted Wetteland into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
Wetteland served as the bullpen coach for the 2006 Washington Nationals, although manager Frank Robinson removed him from that role midway through the year. He later held the same position for the 2009 and 2010 Mariners.
John Wetteland now faces the trial of his life
Retirement hasn’t gone smoothly for the 53-year-old Wetteland. Texas police arrested Wetteland in January 2019 on child sex abuse charges.
Wetteland was indicted on three counts of that charge in March 2019. He is accused of sexually abusing a child between 2004 and 2006.
Wetteland and his lawyer, Derek Adame, denied all charges last year.
Wetteland’s trial is expected to begin later this year, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. The trial was originally scheduled to start in March 2020.