Look, Ed. I'm going to have to ask you to strike out fewer batters. - Jeff Curry
Woody Williams is on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, almost certainly for the last time. But there are worse fates than being an inner-circle member of the Dave Duncan Hall of Fame.
I've recounted this story a few times around the internet, so I'll make it brief: Woody Williams's success infuriated me, because he was traded for Ray Lankford, my favorite player, and his outstanding pitching ruined my discovery of advanced statistics, which I was drawn to for no reason other than their apparent vindication of Ray Lankford. (His Ops is good? Tell me more.)
As it turned out, the best years of the 34-year-old journeyman the Cardinals acquired for him were still to come. Were right then. Woody Williams is not a Hall of Fame pitcher, though if you look around in the right corners of the plaque room you can probably find Hall of Famers he probably out-pitched. But for a year-and-a-half he actually pitched like one, which is enough to merit a full exhibit in the Dave Duncan Sorcery Hall of Fame.
Watching Woody pitch in those years was a little like waiting for an invincibility star to run out in Mario—I knew it was going to happen, but I kept timing the music wrong, and it seemed to go on forever. As it turned out, he lasted all the way into the summer of 2003, when just about every part of the Cardinals' pitching staff went wrong.
Hindsight lets us choose a specific date—June of 2003—and Baseball Musings lets us arbitrarily cordon off those numbers so that we can fully appreciate the Dizzy Dean season Woody Williams pitch-to-contacted over his first 40 St. Louis starts. (The second line is the rest of his Cardinals career.)
He held BAbip down his whole career—.280, against a contemporary league average of .298—but for that charmed first half of his Cardinals career Woody Williams was un-base-hittable. Dave Duncan couldn't have asked for any more.