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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

‘Iron Mike’ Marshall, first reliever to win Cy Young Award, dies at 78

Mike Marshall, who became the first reliever to win the Cy Young Award when he set a major league record by pitching 106 games in a season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has died. He was 78.

Marshall died Monday night at home in Zephyrhills, Florida, where he had been receiving hospice care, according to the Dodgers, who spoke Tuesday to his daughter Rebekah. She did not give a cause of death.

The team planned a moment of silence for Marshall before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Marshall pitched in the majors from 1967 to 1981 for nine teams, compiling a record of 97-112 and 3.14 ERA. He recorded 880 strikeouts and 188 saves.

Marshall won the National League Cy Young Award in 1974, going 15-12 with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves. The right-hander nicknamed “Iron Mike” set major league records that season for most appearances (106), relief innings (208⅓), games finished (83) and consecutive games pitched (13).

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 01, 2021 at 11:33 PM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mike marshall, obituaries

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: June 01, 2021 at 11:36 PM (#6021934)
the year before he won the Cy Young, with the Expos, Marshall went 14-11 with 31 SV in 92 G and 179 IP and a 2.66 ERA.

the year before that, he went 14-8 with 8 SV with a modest 65 G (that still led the NL) and 116 IP.
zero starts in any of those seasons.

Marshall broke in with the 1967 AL champ Tigers (1.98 ERA and 10 SV in 59 IP), then struggled as a part-time starter with the Seattle Pilots in 1969 (yes, he is in the fabled "Ball Four" book by Jim Bouton).

at age 36 in 1979, he tossed in 90 G and 143 IP with a league-leading 32 SV.
he wrapped it all up in strike-destroyed 1981 with a 2.61 ERA in 20 G with the hapless Mets.

what a career, what a life
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: June 01, 2021 at 11:54 PM (#6021940)
and a 1.78 ERA in that 1972 season "with a modest 65 G"......
   3. Walt Davis Posted: June 02, 2021 at 12:06 AM (#6021949)
going 15-12 with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves.

I suppose this was the first example of swooning (a bit) over the save stat. No way a starter with a 15-12 record would have registered on the CYA radar. Maybe he would have won it at 15-12 with 10 saves but I tend to doubt it.

Marshall went 14-11 with 31 SV in 92 G and 179 IP and a 2.66 ERA.

Finished 2nd in CYA so maybe this was the year.

1974 was a terrible match of bWAR and CYA. (not that many are good ones) Marshall won without being top 10. Matlack had 9 WAR and didn't get a single vote. Even Seaver had 6 WAR and didn't get a single vote (11-11). His teammate Messersmith was about 2 WAR ahead, went 20-6 (tied for lead in wins) and finished a distant 2nd despite 86 more IP and a nearly equal ERA.

A fair number of Marshall's innings were wasted (unless you want to count the value of a roster spot) -- 21 appearances with a 4+ lead, another 10 with a 3-run lead, and 2 with a 3-run deficit. And his high leverage performance wasn't that great -- 709 OPS high, 554 med and 563 low. His OPS+ in high leverage was league average. He had 9 more BF in low leverage than he had in high leverage. By the standards of the time, Messersmith should have won ... probably even by the standards of our time. (I'll admit, if a reliever today pulled that off, he'd probably win CYA too.)
   4. The Duke Posted: June 02, 2021 at 12:09 AM (#6021954)
Interesting guy - the players of my youth are all starting to die. It doesn’t seem that long ago
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 02, 2021 at 12:12 AM (#6021956)
I suppose this was the first example of swooning (a bit) over the save stat. No way a starter with a 15-12 record would have registered on the CYA radar. Maybe he would have won it at 15-12 with 10 saves but I tend to doubt it.


It had nothing to do with the save stat. It had everything to do with pitching in a ridiculous 106 games. And 208 innings at a 141 ERA+ is a hell of a year for anybody.

Marshall still holds both the NL (106) and AL (90) records for games pitched in a season. Four other guys have pitched in more than 90 games in a season, but they all did it in the National League.
   6. Shohei Brotani (formerly LA Hombre) Posted: June 02, 2021 at 02:46 AM (#6021967)
A fair number of Marshall's innings were wasted (unless you want to count the value of a roster spot)
It had nothing to do with the save stat. It had everything to do with pitching in a ridiculous 106 games. And 208 innings at a 141 ERA+ is a hell of a year for anybody.
The value of a roster spot is enormous, especially if you're only going with essentially a three-man bullpen because Marshall was basically three relievers -- three really good ones -- all by himself.

He two of the last three NLCS games, then all five World Series games for the Dodgers in 1974. That's wild.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: June 02, 2021 at 03:55 AM (#6021971)
It had nothing to do with the save stat.

Of course it did. Those 21 saves led the league by the way.

It had everything to do with pitching in a ridiculous 106 games.

Sure, a big part of it. But the man just broke his own record from the year before. And that broke the record from just 4 years earlier which broke the record from 1 year earlier which broke the record from 3 years earlier. That record was falling all the time. Granger got no votes in 1969 when he set the record; Wood got no votes in 68 when he set the record (13-12; 16 "saves"; 159 IP of 171 ERA+); Abernathy got no votes when he set the record in 65. It's certainly the case that Marshall 74 easily surpassed the GR and IPR records.

One key difference is that the save stat became official in 1969. It wasn't until 1970 that multiple votes (i.e. 1st/2nd/3rd) for CYA were allowed. And sure enough, Giusti (4th), Granger and Perranoski got a few votes as did swingman Luke Walker. Did Giusti's 26 saves, Granger's 35 saves, Perranoski's 34 saves have nothing to do with that? The next year Jerry Johnson of the Giants finished 6th -- impossible to explain by any criteria really. In 1972, Lyle and his 35 saves got a few votes; so did Marshall's 65 appearances, 14-8, 18 saves and 116 IP finishing just ahead of Clay Carroll's 6-4 with 37 saves (league-leading), 65 games and 96 IP. In 1973, John Hiller had his massive year although that was only good for 4th while Marshall finished 2nd to Seaver in the NL (in a pretty weak year). In 74, in addition to Marshall, Al Hrabosky somehow finished 5th (inexplicable), Clay Carroll 8th (one vote more than Buzz Capra which is just silly) and Giusti tied with Capra while Hiller finished 7th in the AL.

So I'm willing to grant that what pushed Marshall to first was the GR and IP and that the save fetish was already underway. But the save put relievers on the map and voters were overly fascinated with them in those days (and since). Also I had no idea Hrabosky was around in 74 (actually 1970 ... I see him much more an 80s pitcher). The next year when he led the league with 22 saves and a very impressive 13-3 record in 97 IP, he finished 3rd in CYA ... of course he had more WAR than Marshall 1974. :-)

And 208 innings at a 141 ERA+ is a hell of a year for anybody.

A good year but not typically a CYA year in those days. Niekro had 302 innings of 159 in 1974. As mentioned, Messersmith had 292 IP of 132. Marshall was 4th in ERA and ERA+ while Buzz Capra had possibly the biggest outlier year in MLB history (relative to the rest of his career) with a 166 ERA+ in 217 IP. The year before, Seaver won with 290 IP of 175. (Marshall finished 2nd)

Anyway, while I will easily take Gossage at his best or Hiller's great year, Marhsall 74 was a damn fine season without question. Just not a CYA season IMO.

Anyway, this has all gotten away from me. I didn't mean to take away from fond remembrances of a fine pitcher and an interesting guy. I started that first post not expecting it to lead where it did but it surprised me how low his WAR was in that year so I investigated.
   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 02, 2021 at 04:00 AM (#6021972)
Bullpen usage in the 1960s and '70s fascinates me. The 1965 White Sox are one of my favorites - a 95 win team that finished second in the AL. They had three relievers, none of whom made a single start:

Eddie Fishes - 82 G, 165.1 IP, 15-5, 24 SV, 2.40 ERA.
Hoyt Wilhelm - 66 G, 144 IP, 7-7, 21 SV, 1.81 ERA
Bob Locker - 51 G, 91.1 IP, 5-2, 2 SV, 3.15 ERA

They got 400.2 IP with a 2.36 ERA out of three relief pitchers. Wow!
   9. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 02, 2021 at 05:36 AM (#6021974)
Marshall broke in with the 1967 AL champ Tigers

The Tigers, famously, finished second in 1967 to the Red Sox.

Marshall spent the entire 1968 season (when the Tigers did win the pennant, thankyouverymuch) with AAA Toledo -- as a starter, with a 15-9 record in 28 GS. The Pilots took him in the expansion draft, and Marshall did pitch for them in '69, but was sent down -- not to the Pilots' AAA team in Vancouver, but back to Toledo again. Hm. He was a reliever, and in the majors, to stay by '71. (Er, not quite: Marshall attempted a comeback with AAA Edmonton at age 40 in 1983, giving up nine runs in an inning and a third. Gulp.)
   10. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 02, 2021 at 05:55 AM (#6021975)
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 02, 2021 at 07:47 AM (#6021976)
The way he was used in 1974 (and some other seasons) was so weird, especially compared to the way pitchers have been used increasingly over the past 30+ years.

In Marshall's final appearance of the 1974 regular season, he pitched the 6th and 7th innings of a game where the Dodgers were beating the Astros 5-0 when he entered the game to start the 6th inning. Before I tell you what he did in that game, keep in mind:

1) He has already pitched in 105 games, and 206 innings, entering this game.
2) This was the 161st game of the season for the team. They had already clinched their division, and clinched the best record in the NL.
3) The first game of the playoffs was a matter of days away.
4) Don Sutton started the game, cruising along with five shutout innings, 4 hits, 2 walks.
5) After the 5th inning, the Dodgers empty the bench: Garvey comes out, Sutton comes out, Lopes, Cey, Willie Crawford - literally half the starters come out for young bench guys after the 5th.

Which is exactly when you put in...the soon-to-be Cy Young Award winner who has already pitched in 105 games, including the last X games?

Bob Watson singles.
After a Milt May popout to 2B, Cliff Johnson walks.
Then Doug Rader singles.
After an error by the 2B on a Larry Milbourne grounder, Marshall gets Johnny Edwards on a fielder's choice. Two outs.
Greg Gross walks.
Roger Metzger walks.
Cesar Cedeno walks.
Then a groundout to end the inning.

4 runs, 2 hits, 1 error, and 3 straight walks, two of which walk in a run!

So you'd be like, OK, our guy is gassed, right?

He comes out and pitches the 7th inning - walks two more guys, but doesn't give up a run.

Marshall walked six guys in two meaningless innings of work, faced 15 batters, probably threw 65 pitches. He had pitched in 17 games in September, with his highest monthly ERA of the season.

Genuine question: What was Walter Alston thinking?



   12. Nasty Nate Posted: June 02, 2021 at 08:43 AM (#6021980)
Bullpen usage in the 1960s and '70s fascinates me. The 1965 White Sox are one of my favorites - a 95 win team that finished second in the AL. They had three relievers, none of whom made a single start:

Eddie Fishes - 82 G, 165.1 IP, 15-5, 24 SV, 2.40 ERA.
Hoyt Wilhelm - 66 G, 144 IP, 7-7, 21 SV, 1.81 ERA
Bob Locker - 51 G, 91.1 IP, 5-2, 2 SV, 3.15 ERA

They got 400.2 IP with a 2.36 ERA out of three relief pitchers. Wow!
The 1982 Red Sox bullpen has something similar. They got 375.2 IP with a 2.85 ERA out of three relief pitchers, and that was in only 143 outings compared to the 199 for that Chicago group.
   13. Shinbone Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:11 AM (#6021984)
No idea if his ideas about mechanics and pitching motion are right, but I think it's a shame that no organization ever gave him a shot as a pitching coach. His website is still up: https://drmikemarshall.com/
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:17 AM (#6021986)
The 1982 Red Sox bullpen has something similar. They got 375.2 IP with a 2.85 ERA out of three relief pitchers, and that was in only 143 outings compared to the 199 for that Chicago group.


The year Bob Stanley, with zero starts, led the league in ERA+ (though with just a 140).

   15. AndrewJ Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:36 AM (#6021993)
Marshall still holds both the NL (106) and AL (90) records for games pitched in a season.

And there aren't too many players who hold single-season records in each league.
   16. sanny manguillen Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:38 AM (#6021994)
Also I had no idea Hrabosky was around in 74 (actually 1970 ... I see him much more an 80s pitcher).


At full grunge, Hrabosky and Sutter were indistinguishable.

Marshall had a mystique based on his theories derived from kinesiology. He was one of the last pieces that got the Dodgers back to the postseason. For a couple of years, that was enough to make him a star.
   17. salvomania Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:39 AM (#6021995)
In 1974, Marshall was a phenomenon---cover of Sports Illustrated, etc.---and that, which was topped off by his cracking the 100-game mark (shattering the previous record by almost 20%), was what laid the foundation for his CYA. I believe that if he had pitched in, say, 92 games, he might not have won the CYA, but 106--he pitched in almnost 2/3 of the pennant winner's games!--was a number that pushed him over the top.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:40 AM (#6021996)
Marshall broke in with the 1967 AL champ Tigers

guh. the CARDINALS, not the Tigers, won in both 1967 and 1968.

#facepalm
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:45 AM (#6021998)
1967 was St. Louis over Boston
1968 was Detroit over St. Louis
   20. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 02, 2021 at 10:16 AM (#6022000)
Marshall committed a major brain fart in the final game of the 1974 World Series, when he got distracted by a game delay going into the bottom of the seventh and didn't take any warmup pitches.

The leadoff batter Joe Rudi noticed that, and figured that Marshall would "try to sneak a fastball by me on the inside".

Which is exactly what Marshall did, and Rudi sent it over the wall for what turned out to be a Series winning home run.
   21. Perry Posted: June 02, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6022019)
The Pilots took him in the expansion draft, and Marshall did pitch for them in '69, but was sent down -- not to the Pilots' AAA team in Vancouver, but back to Toledo again. Hm.


Bouton talks about that in Ball Four. Marshall lived near Toledo, so he wanted to go there rather than Vancouver, and threatened to quit if he didn't get his way. Bouton admired Marshall tremendously and that was one of the reasons why.
   22. Rally Posted: June 02, 2021 at 11:02 AM (#6022021)
They didn’t throw as hard, and with fewer strikeouts had fewer pitches per inning. But...

It is hard to reconcile the existence of such pitchers when the modern reliever who throws 25 pitches to get through one inning often is too gassed to even be used the next game. And I don’t think the old timers were more likely to get hurt either.
   23. John DiFool2 Posted: June 02, 2021 at 11:07 AM (#6022026)
I had assumed that he was only in for high-leverage situations. To waste him in such situations as in #11 (even if just to give him some work before the postseason) is kaa kaa koo koo.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: June 02, 2021 at 11:43 AM (#6022043)
iirc, Marshall was a very firm believer that more work was far more helpful to his arm than more rest. some of this may have been to appease an eccentric and effective pitcher.
   25. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: June 02, 2021 at 12:28 PM (#6022055)
I read in an interview with him that he had an agreement with Walter Alston that year that if he warmed up, he was going into the game. No idea why Walter would warm him up because it sounds like Sutton was cruising. Maybe Marshall decide that, with 2 days off coming up, he'd like a couple of innings so he wasn't rusty, or maybe he wanted to work on something - that might explain all the walks - he was quite the "scientist" by that time, and maybe he saw that otherwise meaningless game as an opportunity for experimentation.
   26. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 02, 2021 at 02:26 PM (#6022108)
And his high leverage performance wasn't that great -- 709 OPS high, 554 med and 563 low. His OPS+ in high leverage was league average.


I think you make an interesting pt. here but just to be clear: You are comparing Marhsalls 709 OPS in hi-lev to the league avg in HI LEVERAGE situations? Correct? because I am not certain if OPS might trend upward in hi leverage situation due to pinch hitters. So just to be sure: you are looking at OPS+ in high leverage situations?


****

Also he comes across as a self absorbed jerk in Bobbie Bouton's book if memory serves. NOt sure what to make of that. She seemed to write an honest book but maybe she had an ax to grind there?
   27. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: June 02, 2021 at 04:05 PM (#6022140)
I read in an interview with him that he had an agreement with Walter Alston that year that if he warmed up, he was going into the game. No idea why Walter would warm him up because it sounds like Sutton was cruising. Maybe Marshall decide that, with 2 days off coming up, he'd like a couple of innings so he wasn't rusty, or maybe he wanted to work on something - that might explain all the walks - he was quite the "scientist" by that time, and maybe he saw that otherwise meaningless game as an opportunity for experimentation.


If I recall correctly there's an item in Nine Innings about Rollie Fingers to the same effect: that he had an understanding with Kuenn that if he warmed up, he was going into the game. All relievers hate being warmed up and then sat down again, but the star relievers are of course the only ones that have the leverage to bend the manager to their will on the issue. I wonder how much that had to do with the rapid evolution of 1970s Stoppers into modern Closers.

And I also wonder if it's necessary anymore, with the increasing rarity of starters pitching past the fifth inning or relievers pitching past the inning they enter the game. I wonder what the average leverage of a modern relief ace's 60-ish innings would look like if, instead of the modern usage pattern of "ninth inning with a 1-3 run lead, or ninth inning of any close game if he hasn't worked lately", the relief ace's usage was more along the lines of "first reliever into the game if it's close, throw 20 pitches then exit." Lower leverage because he'd be entering the game earlier, but (unless it's because the starter was pinch-hit for) the first reliever in when the starter is knocked out is very frequently trying to put out a fire.

It will never happen because the pitcher would not get Saves and Saves are what get relief pitchers paid, but it's interesting to think about.
   28. The Honorable Ardo Posted: June 02, 2021 at 04:16 PM (#6022149)
I went to Dr. Marshall's website and watched some of the videos. The most noteworthy part, to me, was the pitchers' stride - it reminded me of a drop step in basketball. He also talks a lot about maximizing pronation.

There's a LOT of overlap, both in terms of personality and content, with contemporary pitching iconoclast Trevor Bauer.
   29. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 02, 2021 at 04:41 PM (#6022157)
As a kid who loved baseball growing up, but was a little too young to follow Marshall in real time, he was always one of a handful of pitchers who I always thought of in this sort of "freak show" group of players who did things that I would never see in my lifetime, but who had done these things just a few years before I was old enough to become a fan. (I was born in 1974, the year of his CYA.)

It would be the early 1980s, and I would read about how a pitcher threw in 106 games, and was like, "That's impossible!", even though it was only like eight years earlier. Another guy sort of like this for me was Wilbur Wood. In 1971-1973 he started 139 games, pitching 1070 innings - and pitching well, even as this rolly-polly athlete. Even in the early 1980s, I was like, "That is not possible." Herbie Washington was sort of the same thing - the idea that a team would basically just have a guy that did nothing but pinch run was pretty crazy.

This stuff happened 45-50 years ago, so as unlikely as it would be today, it happened far enough in the past that it seems no weirder today than Hack Wilson's 190 RBIs seems to me in 1982.

But the fact that this f**ked up stuff happened just a few years earlier - and yet seemed impossible - really stuck in my head as a kid, and has since then. That's what I first think of when I think of Mike Marshall.
   30. Cblau Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:23 PM (#6022208)
Marshall broke in with the 1967 AL champ Tigers

guh. the CARDINALS, not the Tigers, won in both 1967 and 1968.

#facepalm

guh, the Cardinals didn't win the AL championship in 1967 (or any other year). #facepalm
   31. Cblau Posted: June 02, 2021 at 09:24 PM (#6022209)
Regarding his saves, keep in mind 1974 was the only year there was a realistic save rule; none of this preserve a 3-run lead for one inning garbage.
   32. Howie Menckel Posted: June 02, 2021 at 10:33 PM (#6022235)
guh, the Cardinals didn't win the AL championship in 1967 (or any other year). #facepalm

you completely misunderstood my post, which was about how I remembered correctly that one team won a pennant in both 1967 and 1968, but I listed the Tigers when of course it was the Cardinals. my fresh reply didn't address AL or NL - it just read "guh. the CARDINALS, not the Tigers, won in both 1967 and 1968."

so now we're even in #facepalm at one apiece

:)
   33. baxter Posted: June 02, 2021 at 11:20 PM (#6022249)
29 Also, keep in mind that Wood held the major league single season games pitched record w/88 in 1968; wayne granger pitched 90 games for the reds the next year to break it.

Wood faced Ryan in Anaheim in 1972; year before the DH; Ryan's breakout year for the Angels; Wood got a hit off Ryan (batting in self-defense).

I also remember Marshall believing in a lot of activity to maintain arm health.
   34. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 03, 2021 at 01:07 AM (#6022269)

He two of the last three NLCS games, then all five World Series games for the Dodgers in 1974. That's wild.


I believe this was the last time a best of nine world series was played.
   35. Ron J Posted: June 03, 2021 at 07:06 AM (#6022276)
#27 same story with Gossage in one of his big years. I want to say Tanner in 1975 but might have the wrong one.
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: June 03, 2021 at 07:39 AM (#6022278)
He two of the last three NLCS games, then all five World Series games for the Dodgers in 1974. That's wild.


I believe this was the last time a best of nine world series was played
swing and a miss
   37. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 03, 2021 at 10:18 AM (#6022294)
Regarding his saves, keep in mind 1974 was the only year there was a realistic save rule; none of this preserve a 3-run lead for one inning garbage.


This is from bb-ref:

Before the 1974 season, the save rule was modified and simplified. Under this new rule, a relief pitcher earned a save under one of two conditions:

He had to enter the game with either the potential tying or winning run either on base or at the plate and preserve the lead; or
He had to pitch at least three or more effective innings and preserve the lead.
A pitcher could be credited with the save even if he had not finished the game, provided he had been removed either for a pinch hitter or a pinch runner. When more than one pitcher was in a position to qualify for a save, the official scorer had to judge which of them had been most effective and award the save to him.


I don't know how many saves Marshall lost in 1974 due to the rule change, but he led the league with a measly total of 21, which would be the lowest league-leading figure in either league between Al Worthington's 18 in the 1968 AL and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: June 03, 2021 at 10:47 AM (#6022301)
A cursory glance suggests he would have saved 7 additional games had today's rules been in place. I don't know whether he gained any from that third part of the rule that he wouldn't qualify for today.

Also, and I guess this shouldn't be any kind of surprise when you make 100-plus appearances, but he pitched in a lot of losses.

   39. Morty Causa Posted: June 03, 2021 at 12:20 PM (#6022316)
Also he comes across as a self absorbed jerk in Bobbie Bouton's book if memory serves.


The co-author of Home Games was Nancy Marshall, Mike's wife (she and Mike were in the midst of getting a divorce). She was pretty angry. Mike was angry, too. She also spoke about Mike having incredible upper-body strength. He worked with the weights when it is wasn't the custom or approved of. Nancy tells an anecdote about riding with Mike in his truck and a vehicle at an intersection was dawdling, taking his time to cross, so Mike just pushed the vehicle aside with his truck and went his way.
   40. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: June 03, 2021 at 12:39 PM (#6022319)
Marshall somehow wound up as the baseball coach at my mother's alma mater, Henderson State U., in the small south central Arkansas college town (Ouachita Baptist U. is across the street from Henderson) of Arkadelphia from 1989-1991. I regret not having swung down there from Little Rock, an hour or so away, to see a game or two.
   41. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 03, 2021 at 03:50 PM (#6022372)
Has any one done a study of what was the greatest season by a reliever?
   42. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: June 03, 2021 at 06:32 PM (#6022405)
Speaking of relievers as MVPs & such, I must admit that I've never paid the slightest attention to college baseball, but I took note today when a headline from my home state noted that an Arkansas player -- a reliever - has been chosen as Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's national player of the year. Kevin Kopps' numbers, as quoted in the report, echo some of those from past eras described in this thread --

Kopps, a reliever who has an NCAA-best 0.81 ERA in 66 1/3 innings this season, has factored into 20 decisions with 10 wins and 10 saves. He has struck out 105 and walked 15.

Kopps has allowed six runs in 28 appearances, and during one stretch recorded 28 consecutive scoreless innings. Teams are batting .161 against him, he ranks third nationally with a 0.78 WHIP and seventh with 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings.


Twenty-eight games in 66.3 innings reminds me of the relief usage of Lefty Grove way back when between starts, as described in the biography I just finished reading. I suspect Kopps isn't just being brought in to finish games like the standard relievers of the last couple of decades.

   43. AstrosOldTimer Posted: June 03, 2021 at 08:09 PM (#6022417)
Bullpen usage in the 1960s and '70s fascinates me.

It was a common opinion back then that the bullpen was basically for pitchers who were not good enough to start. Everyone was groomed to be a starter and wanted to be a starter. There were no pansy "20 pitches and I'm gassed" pitchers back then. OK, maybe a few...who knows! But relievers were really just demoted starters and they always wanted to work their way back into the rotation.

Also, everyone seemed to have a rubber arm because it was common wisdom that pitching regularly was the best way to avoid injury. The reason pitchers are kept on a short leash now is not to protect their arm, but to protect the team's investment.

When Nolan Ryan had elbow problems after 1987, he was put on a 110 pitch count limit to protect his arm, and he was over 40 at the time.

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