A good closer is hard to find. You look at the teams that have already clinched, and a big factor in their success is having a guy in the pen that can shut the door (with the exception of the Phightin’ Phils, who may have finally found their man). We take a timeout here, to honor those great doorclosers with the Blue Duck’s award for best closer. We give it in the honor of one of baseball’s greatest players and humanitarians, Mr. John Rocker.
And the winners are:
ERA below two? Check. Among the league leaders in saves? Check. Pitching for a playoff team? Check. Ryan Franklin fits the bill, albeit in a league of less than flattering options. He doesn’t strike out many batters, his walk totals are average, and he’s blown a few saves. But look at thethis year and even with all the negative things pointed out about Franklin, he’s still the best. Now it’s overstating it a bit to say he’s been only okay, because he’s been very good.
Franklin is closing games for Tony La Russa, someone whose trust isn’t easy to gain. Ryan doesn’t allow many hits and has only 13 runs on the season. That’s pretty amazing considering his peripheral stats (k’s, walks) are average. The bottom line? He gets the job done for a team with World Series potential. Congrats.
I know we did Comeback Player of the Year yesterday, but this guy is really the epitome of returning to old form. But, the beauty of Hoffman is that he has evolved as a pitcher. The once prototypical closer has become a crafty changeup machine, but got the job done maybe as effectively as ever this year.
Hoffman carried with him the lowest WHIP in the major leagues at 0.88. Hoffman blew only 3 saves in 39 chances, and finished the year with an ERA of 1.76. Not bad for a 41-year old. The Brew Crew struggled mightily in ’09, but Hoffman did not contribute to their plight. It would have been nice to see what he could have pulled off with a playoff contender this season, though. Hells Bells.
Mariano Rivera (P) NYY
Another classic year by Mo. He’s been the only constant in a Yankees bullpen that was battered by injury all year. He’s got 44 saves, two off the league lead. His stats aren’t neccessarily mind-blowing; among closers he’s not near the lead in strikeouts, nor does he pitch multiple innings, but he doesn’t need to. With his devastating cutter breaking the bats of lefties and causing righties to pop-up, he’s efficient. Considering he doesn’t walk batters (almost literally, he’s got about half as many walks as any other AL pitcher with 30+ saves).
He’s closing games for the best team in baseball and he’s getting it done the same way he does every season. The qualities you look for in a closer are consistency and reliability. Rivera’s got ’em, as he doesn’t have many heart attack innings (see Papelbon, Jonathon), doesn’t have total clunkers (Fuentes, Brian), and gets the job done in the ninth.
Joey’s been getting it done for a long time now. It seems like he is one of the few closers in baseball whose job has never been in question. Minnesota has made this interesting and during their comeback stretch, Nathan has been solid. In the last 2 months, Nathan has 16 saves with only two blown.
He has blown 5 on the season, a bit steep, but his numbers are great. With a WHIP of 0.95, Nathan does not allow baserunners, avoids big innings, and strikes out more than a man an inning. Best closer in the AL? no, but Boomer chose Mo. Joe Nathan is as good as any non-Mo closer in the league.
Tomorrow is day 3 of the baseball award extravaganza. Our Cy Young Award goes out. No Name for that one yet. Send us any suggestions? Gaylord Perry, Orel Hershiser, and Doc Gooden are in the running. Tune in tomorrow.
Yesterday we announced the Comeback Player of the Year Award winners here https://blueducksports.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/blue-duck-mlb-awards-day-one-comeback-player/