Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
Dontrelle Willis, the pitcher who became a fan favorite when he won Rookie of the Year for the Florida Marlins in 2003, retired from baseball Monday. Having failed to revive his career with the Baltimore Orioles, the "D-Train" ended a noteworthy career.
The Orioles announced Willis' retirement on Monday afternoon. "I'm deeply thankful for everything the game has done for me and I will always remember the great people I met along the way as well," he tweeted afterward.
Willis spent five seasons as a Florida Marlin, making his debut during the Marlins' second World Series campaign. He went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 2003, earning the first of two All-Star selections in addition to a Rookie of the Year and World Series ring.
Willis' affable demeanor and pronounced leg kick instantly endeared him to Marlins fans as he opened his career by winning nine of his first ten decisions, including a one-hit shutout against the New York Mets in mid-June. Dubbed the "D-Train," he was one of the most popular players in franchise history.
He was even better in 2005, leading the majors with 22 wins, 7 complete games, and 5 shutouts. With an ERA of 2.63, he finished second in NL Cy Young voting to Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals.
But after two more mediocre years with the Marlins, Willis was never the same. The Marlins shipped him to Detroit with Miguel Cabrera in a salary dump after the 2007 season. He would end up making just 26 starts for Detroit in two and a half seasons, going 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA and more walks (92) than strikeouts (68).
A 2010 trade to Arizona in 2010 did little to change his fortunes, and he was released just over a month after that trade. He pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 2011, but failed to make the Philadelphia Phillies roster in 2012 Spring Training.
Baltimore signed him to a minor league deal this spring, but Willis' comeback attempt did not succeed. When he was traded by the Marlins he held the franchise record for wins (68), which was later surpassed by Ricky Nolasco. For his career, Willis finishes with a 72-69 record and 896 strikeouts.
Current Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who was third base coach for the Marlins in 2003, told the Miami Herald of Willis Monday, "I think this kid... took the pitching staff to the new level. For two or three months he was unhittable."