The first four years were a struggle, as he went 39-42 with a 4.85 ERA, but he also showed his potential by striking out 8.7 batters per nine innings.He finally put it together in 1990. With the help of a club-record 12-game winning streak, he went 17-10 with a 3.36 ERA and was second in the American League behind teammate Nolan Ryan with 220 strikeouts. He was third in the league with seven complete games. A torn rotator cuff in 1991 kept Witt from building on that season, and on Aug. 31, 1992, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics. He pitched in his first playoff game that year as the Athletics won the division title. The following season, Witt was 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA and in 1994, finishing second in the American League with three shutouts. He signed as a free agent with the Florida Marlins in 1995 and was traded back to the Rangers on Aug. 8 of that season. That proved to be a crucial deal because Witt was one of the club's top pitchers the following season, a memorable one as the Rangers won their first division title in club history. Witt ended up going 16-12 with a 5.41 ERA in 33 games and was particularly impressive in the second half. During the stretch drive to the division title, Witt was 8-1 with a 4.19 ERA between July 20 and Sept. 8. He won 12 more games for the Rangers in 1998, then started to drift, going from Texas to St. Louis to Tampa Bay and then to Cleveland. His final season was with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he was 4-1 with a 4.78 ERA. But he was 3-0 in his last six starts over the final five weeks of the season, helping the Diamondbacks hold off the Giants by two games in the National League West. He closed out his career with a scoreless inning in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series. He would finish ranked 64th all-time with 7.14 strikeouts per nine innings and 69th all-time with 1,955 strikeouts. Shoulder problems plagued him earlier in his career and a bad back was a concern over the final few seasons. But over and over again during the course of his career, he showed plenty of guts and lots of heart.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.