Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Top 100: 35. Frank Killen

Frank Killen was a 6’1” native of Pittsburgh, PA. Born on November 30th, 1870, the left handed pitcher (also known by the distinctive nickname, “Lefty”) made his first professional appearance with the Grand Rapids Shamrocks of the International Association in 1890, going 3-1 in four starts. In 1891, he compiled an 18-13 record with a 3.00 ERA with the Western Association’s Minneapolis Millers. During the same season, he made his major league debut with the Milwaukee Brewers of the then-major league American Association, going 7-4, 1.68 and completing each of his 11 starts (including two shutouts).

1892 would see Killen amass a 29-26 record for the National League’s Washington Senators, with a 3.31 ERA. He appeared in 60 games overall, pitching a career high 459.2 innings and completing 46 of his 52 starts. Just prior to the 1893 season, the Senators traded him to the Pirates for utilityman Duke Farrell (124 games with Washington, .282, 75 RBI) and $1500.

In 1893, Killen led the National League in wins with a 36-14 record. He completed 38 of his 48 starts, including two shutouts. He allowed 401 hits in 415 innings (NL fourth) for 8.696 H/9 (NL third), a 1.304 WHIP (NL third), and a 3.64 ERA (NL seventh). He was also no slouch at the plate, hitting .275 with 35 runs, six doubles, six triples, four home runs, 30 RBI and 22 walks. Our advanced metrics also tell a story of his dominance that season, as he ranked fifth in the NL with a heady 8.1 WAR. The Pirates missed out on the pennant by five games to the 86-43 Boston Beaneaters, sitting at 81-48.

1894 would see Killen post a modest (at that time) 14-11 record with a 4.50 ERA. He appeared in and started 28 games, finishing 20 of them and earning one shutout. His WHIP shot up to 1.701, as he allowed 261 hits and 86 walks in only 204 innings. The era he played in was much more forgiving of a pitcher, as shown by his still impressive 3.2 WAR. He also still showed promise in the batters box, hitting .263 with 13 RBI in 88 plate appearances. The Bucs finished in seventh place in the then 12-team National League, all even at 65-65.

Killen only started 11 games in 1895, completing six and going 5-5 with a 5.49 ERA. He walked 57 and allowed 113 hits in 95 innings. He also hit .342 over 45 plate appearances, with a triple, seven runs, and five RBI. Pittsburgh again placed seventh in the NL, going 71-61.

1896 would see Killen lead the NL in several categories, including wins at 30-18, 52 games pitched, 50 games started, 44 complete games, five shutouts, 432.1 innings pitched, and 1,850 batters faced. He posted a 3.41 ERA (NL ninth), 134 strikeouts (NL third) and a 7.9 WAR figure (NL fourth). His average at the plate slipped to .231, as he scored 29 runs, hit four doubles, five triples, two round trippers and 25 RBI, along with 26 walks. Pittsburgh barely squeaked into the first division, in sixth place with a 66-63 record.

Killen went 17-23 in 1897 for the 60-71 Bucs, posting a 4.46 ERA. He completed an NL best 38 games of his 42 total appearances (41 of which were starts). He followed that up by starting the 1898 season with a 10-11 record through 23 games, lowering his ERA to 3.75. Around August 5th (exact date unknown), the Pirates decided to close the book on him, releasing him outright.

After a second stint with the Senators (6-11, 3.75 ERA), Killen also made an appearance with the Beaneaters (7-5, 4.26) before closing out his major league career with the Chicago Cubs (3-3, 4.67). He went on to post a cumulative 39-34 record for several minor league teams over the next four seasons, calling it quits after a 6-14 record with the “A” level Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association in 1903.

All-Time Statline: Six seasons, 112-82, 3.97 ERA, 213 games, 201 starts, 163 CG, nine shutouts, zero saves, 1661.1 innings pitched, 1869 hits allowed, walked 519, struck out 467, 1.437 WHIP, 22.5 wins above replacement.

Up next: A shortstop who spent all of his 11 major league seasons with the Pirates.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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