Born: Nov. 15, 1942 in Cuba
Drafted: 1st round, 5th overall pick, by Chicago in 1973 MBBA Dispersal Draft
All-Star selections: 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980
OCA Pitcher of the Year: 1976, 1980
Landis Memorial Series title: 1979
At or near the top of the shortlist for MBBA pitcher of the first decade is Johan Schmatzhagen. The 6-foot-4 righthander went 188-66 in the league's first 10 seasons, never failing to record at leat 11.4 OWS, an ERA below 3.66 or fewer than 188 strikeouts.
Those numbers are even more impressive when one considers that Johan started his career at 30 years old and didn't drop off until he reached 39. Even at that point Schmatzhagen went 11-7 with a 3.65 ERA, 188 strikeouts and 11.4 win shares in 207 innings.
Schmatzhagen started his career as a fine pitcher, going 34-20 in his first two seasons with 557 strikeouts in 479 innings. He was traded to Brooklyn after his first season and then to Marquette in the middle of his second year in the league.
After going 11-2 with the Suns in 1974, Schmatzhagen took off to stratospheric levels in 1975. He won 20 games against just seven losses, posting a 2.46 ERA, 25.4 win shares and 328 strikeouts and just 52 walks in 263 innings.
Most pitchers would be happy to have that as a career-best season. Not Schmatzhagen, though. He posted even better numbers in 1976, going 24-5 with a 1.36 ERA, 317 strikeouts, 45 walks, a .448 OOPS and 37.7 win shares in 278 innings. Schmatzhagen won the first of two OCA Pitcher of the Year awards and followed it up with four straight seasons of 20-plus win shares, winning 20 or more games in three of those seasons. He was traded to California in the middle of the 1979 season, though the change of scenery barely showed in his stats.
Schmatzhagen had a fine 1981, going 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA and 19.1 win shares as a 38-year-old. He fell off a cliff in 1982, posting the first losing record of his career (10-4), splitting 34 starts between California and Des Moines. Jonah started four more games for Des Moines in 1984, going 1-2 with a 4.87 ERA before calling it quits on one of, if not the, best pitching careers in the early days of the MBBA.
Herein You Find the Inducted