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Thursday, December 29, 2022

Does Cooperstown need more closers? Examining Billy Wagner, K-Rod and other pitchers on Hall of Fame ballot

Starting with the relievers, there are only a few in the Hall. Mariano Rivera united everyone and made it unanimously. Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter round out the specialists. Dennis Eckersley wouldn’t be in if not for his exploits as an elite-level closer, but he racked up a lot of value as a starter. John Smoltz was a closer for a short span, but he’s in as a starter. Basically, there are seven closers in Cooperstown, but we could include Eckersley to make it eight.

In all of baseball history, that’s an incredibly low number, though there is a reason for it. Multiple reasons, in fact. The relief pitcher is a relatively modern innovation. Wilhelm debuted in 1952 and he was an outlier for years. The ‘70s and ‘80s are when we saw most of the Hall of Fame closers. The closers in that era often worked more than an inning and carried higher workloads than the closers of recent vintage, so they racked up much more impact each season.

Just as an example: Craig Kimbrel has 394 career saves, good for seventh in history. Rollie Fingers sits 15th at 341. But Fingers worked 1,701 1/3 innings compared to Kimbrel’s current 688 1/3.

The innings shortfall seems to be part of what is preventing Wagner from getting in at this juncture. Though there’s more. Circle back to where I said there are “multiple reasons” why relievers are so lightly represented in Cooperstown. One of those reasons is that most relievers are failed starters. Hoffman was. Hell, Rivera was a failed starter.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2022 at 05:14 PM | 102 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2
   101. tonywagner Posted: January 02, 2023 at 08:29 AM (#6111570)
   102. Ithaca2323 Posted: January 05, 2023 at 02:48 PM (#6112025)
Pitcher A: 1,089 IP of a 141 ERA+. Hall of Fame inductee
Pitcher B: 1,319 IP of a 142 ERA+ Ineligible for the Hall of Fame because his career was too short

All because Pitcher A gets the easier job of throwing one inning at a time. It's a total joke we've even let it get that far. Might as well induct LOOGYs
Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2

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