During the year, the A’s compiled a record of 102-60 and finished 14 games behind the Seattle Mariners to take second place in the AL West.
The Big Three
Zito made his debut with the A’s in 2000. He had a woeful beginning to the 2001 season. Starting in 22 games up to mid July, he went 6-7 with a whopping 5.01 ERA.
By the middle of the summer, things started to click for Zito and he fired off an 11-2 record with a 1.32 ERA in his final 13 starts. He also struck out 200 batters to become the fourth A’s pitcher to do so in a single season.
2001 was nothing short of spectacular and had fans jumping out of their seats with his every start.
But on July 24, 2001 against the Minnesota Twins, Zito couldn’t make it past the second inning and had to watch his teammates from the dugout. He bounced back on August 9, 2001 with a stellar performance against the Boston Red Sox. Throwing a complete game 4-hit shutout, while not allowing a runner past first base.
Zito was awarded for his performances in August and September with Pitcher of the Month honors. Leading the AL in ERA and opponents batting average and tied in wins during August, while leading the AL in ERA in September and tied in the number of wins.
He saved his best performance in 2001 for the Texas Rangers. Going 5-0 in seven career starts and a 3.52 ERA.
Hudson, acquired by the A’s in the 6th round of the June 1997 draft, made his debut with the team on June 7, 1999. In 21 starts during his rookie year, he went 11-2 with a 3.23 ERA and led the team with 132 strikeouts. He won 20 games in 2000 and 18 in 2001, becoming the 12th pitcher in Oakland history with at least three consecutive 10-win seasons.
Hudson was the opening day starter in 2001 and became a workhouse for the A’s during the season. He led the team in innings pitched for a second straight year and had a career-high 3 complete games.
Among his 2002 highlights, Hudson struck out 11 Anaheim Angels in the game on April 7 and against Texas on June 22..
By the end of 2001, Hudson posted a 8-1 record against the Angels in 10 career starts and was undefeated against Toronto, Baltimore, Minnesota and Tampa Bay. However, by then he had yet to record a win against Cleveland or New York during the regular season.
At 6’6”, looking ever fit and handsome, Mulder had the air of a Superstar from the moment he was taken by the A’s, as the second selection overall, behind Pat Burrell in the 1998 draft.
Mulder made his debut with the A’s in 2000, making 27 starts before his season was cut short in mid-September by a herniated disc. Sadly, this injury was eventually demise from baseball.
In 2001 he had the best year of his career, with 21 wins and finished second to Roger Clemens in the AL Cy Young race.
Mulder in 2001 had an impressive 11-game streak of not issuing a walk. He struck out 153 batters and ranked first in the AL in double plays induced with 26. In 18 of his 24 starts that year, he went at least 7 innings, while allowing 3 runs or less 24 times.
Whereas Zito was a slow starter in 2001, Mulder sprinted out of the gates , going 5-0 in May and a 2.47 ERA. But Anaheim was his nemesis. In June, his winning streak went downhill like tumbleweed. He could only manage a 1-4 record with a ballooning 5.75 ERA.
His stellar performance of the year was an almost perfect game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, (who won the World Series that year) on July 6, 2001. RF Danny Bautista hit a single to lead off the eight and broke up the perfect game. The only base runner he allowed in the game. Mulder did not get to ball three on any batter and struck out nine for a career high.
Six times during 2001, Mulder retired all nine hitters the first time through the order. For the second time in 2001 he took a no-hitter into the seventh against the Chicago Cubs, when Maglio Ordonez hit a two-run home run.
In July, Mulder was name AL Pitcher of the month, with his league-leading ERA and tying for second in wins.
Mulder in that year, defeated all 12 AL teams he faced at least once and defeated all four NL West teams he faced, ending with a 4-1 record with a 1.63 ERA and two shutouts in interleague play in 2001.
Hudson, Zito and Mulder accounted for 54 percent of Oakland’s wins during 2001.
What a year 2001 was for the Mighty Big 3 and the A’s.
With the 2011 Opening Day only 66 days away, Oakland A’s fans can look forward to the next Big 3…
Philadelphia Phillies Ain’t got nuthin on the A’s!
Source: Oakland A’s Media Guide 2001, MLB.com, Baseball Reference.com