MLB Awards, Day 2: The John Rocker Closer Distinction

September 30, 2009
I wanted to name this the Kenny Powers award, but instead I named it after the real deal.

I wanted to name this the Kenny Powers award, but instead I named it after the real deal.

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:

Ryan Franklin (P) StL

If it looks like that now, imagine it when he stops shaving for the playoffs

If it looks like that now, imagine it when he stops shaving for the playoffs

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 the National League this 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.

Trevor Hoffman

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.


Biggest honor of my long career. Mos reaction when we told him of the award.

"Biggest honor of my long career." Mo's reaction when we told him of the award.

Mariano Rivera

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.

Joe Nathan

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.

Kenny lost out to Rivera in a close decision.

Kenny lost out to Rivera in a close decision.

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

Carebear’s Top 5 Modern Pitchers

August 13, 2009

Welcome Back

Pedro Martinez returned to the Major League mound tonight for the first time this season, and for his first start for a legitimate franchise since the Red Sox let him go after the 2004 season.  Pedro’s start got me thinking of the old days when he was all but unhittable.  He showed little glimpses of that briefly tonight, but in his prime, Pedro was something special.

So I started trying to rank him against other modern (guys who have spent the majority of their careers in the 90’s-2000’s) pitchers.  These are my top 5.

Sorry Rocket.

Sorry Rocket.

By the way, to avoid controversy, or a grand jury investigation, I left Roger Clemens off this list.  Probably would’ve been number 3ish anyways, but I never really liked the guy all that much.

Number 5

Johan Santana

2 Cy Youngs, 4 All Star Games, 1 Gold Glove

This guy is very good.  He may have been the big reason the Twins were contenders in the early 2000’s, and if he was part of a better team now, his numbers would be unbelievable.  A career era of 3.10 and a career WHIP at 1.11.  That WHIP is 4th among active players (26th all time), two of the three ahead of him are on this list, the other is Trevor Hoffman.  Not too shabby.

So he doesn’t give up hits, and doesn’t walk anybody, and strikes out a batter every inning.  Tough to hit.  If you looked at his career numbers for era, WHIP, and K/9 you would think he was a closer.  Scariest stat: Born March 13, 1979.

Number 4

Mariano Rivera

Dont let the smile fool you, this man hates baseball bats.

Don't let the smile fool you, this man hates baseball bats.

No Cy Youngs, 10 all star games, 1 WS MVP, 1 ALCS MVP

10 years, and 4 rings Santana’s senior, Rivera has made a career out of one pitch.  I almost put Rivera at number 1 because of that fact.  Everyone knows what is coming and no one has figured him out.  You can argue that he throws a 2 seamer and a little slider from time to time, but you could guess cutter every pitch, get it every pitch, and never hit the thing square.

If Elias sports bureau kept a stat for broken bats it would not even be close.  The fact is, if his cutter moves enough it is virtually swingproof.  There is very little chance of hitting something that moves that drastically from where a hitter last sees it.  It is an angry flat slider (sounds like something off the Chili’s menu).

The stats you ask? Screw saves, Rivera’s WHIP is 3rd all time (1st Active), ERA is first among active players (14th all time), and to give you an idea of guys not being able to square it up, he gives up roughly one homerun every 19 innings (1st among active players).

Number 3

Randy Johnson

Great Pitcher, Fabulous Hairdo

Great Pitcher, Fabulous Hairdo. Looks like someone you'd see on Cops.

5 Cy Youngs, 10 All Star Games, 1 WS MVP

Randy Johnson is a big, ugly, scary, ugly, big lefthander that no one ever liked to face.  In his prime he had the fastball that looked like he was placing in the catcher’s mitt and the slider that a righty could swing through and then get hit in the back leg with.

300 K’s 6 times, 20 wins twice, a ton of innings, and, like Johan, closer numbers when it comes to WHIP (5th active).  He is first all time in K’s per 9 innings at over 10, and for a guy with his power, he has never walked too many guys.  When him and Schilling both pitched for the DBACKs they had two power guys that could go 8 innings everytime out.  Scary.  Too bad he spent so much of his career alone in Seattle.  Poor Randy and Ken Griffey.

His 2002 line:

24 w’s, 5 L’s, 2.32 ERA, 8 CG’s, 4 SHO, 197 H’s in 260 IP, 334 K’s, for a WHIP of 1.03 and 11.6 K’s/9.  All at the young age of 38.  Those are Satchel Paige Numbers if you threw in 9 no hitters, and few good quotes,  “Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.” -Satch

Satch, best ever?

Satch, best ever?

Number 2

Greg Maddux

4 Cy Youngs, 8 All Star Games, 18 Gold Gloves (just give me one to pawn)

If this was all based on purely statistics, Maddux would probably be a little lower on the list, but as far as pitching goes, Greg was world class.  His Brave’s made a career for Leo Mazzone, who looked like a genius because of him, Smoltzy and Tom Glavine.  Maddux just evolved as he went.  He seemed to know how hitters thought, and always used that against him.  He was the kind of pitcher guys probably saw warm up and got excited then couldn’t understand how they went 0-4 off of him.

3.16 career ERA.  In 1994, he had 16 wins, 1.56 era, and  a WHIP at .896 before the strike.   The next season, 19-2, 1.63 ERA and a nonexistent WHIP of .811.  Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser probably could’ve left their gloves in the dugout.  He was the best pitcher of the early 90’s and became one of the most consistent pitchers of all time.  He won 15 or more games from 1988 to 2006.  Pretty unbelievable career.

Number 1

Pedro Martinez

3 Cy Youngs, 8 All Star Games

Pedro reminds me of an old school pitcher.  He is almost like the Ken Griffey Jr of pitchers in that he showed us what normal deterioration and aging look like in a non-roided up player.  That says a lot of Randy Johnson, as well who is a freak of nature (an ugly one).

I grew up in the mix in Connecticut.  Its kind of like the baseball Mason-Dixon there.  Yankees and Sox fans get brutal during baseball season because there is no women’s basketball to calm them down.  So when the Yanks-Sox series came on, it got heated.  Pedro was “A #1” douchebag in this period of my life.  He hit everybody on the Yanks, all the time.  He knew he could because he could get anybody out.  So why not drill Jeter in the brain or hit Tino between the numbers?

Speaking of numbers (wow, what a segway), Pedro’s career ERA of 2.91 is 3rd among active pitchers, and has been hurt because of his recent few seasons.  He is first among active pitchers in winning percentage, 3rd all time in k/9 innings, and 6th all time in WHIP (3rd among active behind Hell’s Bells and the Sandman).  Also 3rd among active pitchers in beaning dudes 137 times.

Martinez wanted the ball in big games, and had huge balls in those games.  Too many people will remember Grady Little leaving him in and Hideki Matsui hitting a seed off him, but I think Pedro wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pedro is #1 because he is such a hybrid.  He had the power stuff comparable to a Randy Johnson, about 10 different changeups that Santana will try to live up to, the floaty stuff from time to time that Maddux extended his career with, and the ability to just flat out get guys out that Mo has.

Pedro was, in his prime, the perfect modern pitcher.

I hated this guy for so long.

I hated this guy for so long.