Friday, May 24, 2019

Bill Stoneman (#398)

In just his 3rd big-league season,  Bill Stoneman became the first big star for the expansion Montreal Expos pitching staff.

Stoneman was signed by the Cubs in June 1966, and after two half-seasons in the minors, he made his major-league debut in July 1967. (Stoneman was so fresh that Topps didn't even have him on a Cubs' Rookies card in the 1967 set.) He pitched 63 innings over 28 games for the remainder of the season, picking up 4 saves.

In 1968 he only played 18 games for the Cubs, while pitching 6 games in triple-A. That doesn't add up to a full season, so maybe he spent time on the DL. After that season Bill was left unprotected in the expansion draft, and was selected by the Expos with the 19th pick.

He began 1969 as the #2 starter behind veteran Mudcat Grant, and in only his 5th start he pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies. By early-June, Grant was dispatched to the Cardinals while Stoneman became the team's ace, leading the staff with 36 starts (9 more than the next guy), 235 innings (56 more than the next guy), and 185 strikeouts (52 more than the next guy).   His 11 wins made him the only Expo hurler with double-digit wins (although he also lost 19 games).

Stoneman had an off-year in 1970, but teammate Carl Morton had an even better season than Bill's 1969,  winning 18 games and the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Stoneman bounced back to lead the staff in '71 and '72. In both seasons he led the team in starts, innings, and strikeouts, with half of his 1971 starts being complete games (19). He also had 13 complete games in 1972, tying him with newcomer Mike Torrez. Bill made his only All-Star team in 1972, and also pitched his 2nd no-hitter in his final game that season (Oct 2nd).

The wheels came off in 1973, as he only started 17 games while his ERA ballooned to 6.80 and only struck out 48 batters. By August he was replaced in the rotation by Steve Rogers, who would finish 2nd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

Stoneman was sold to the Angels the day before the 1974 season opener, but by the end of June his record was 1-8 with a 6.14 ERA. He was released 2 weeks later, ending his career.

He began working in the Expos' front office in 1983, and was eventually named their GM. Stoneman was also the Angels' General Manager from 1999-2007.