Monday, October 09, 2006

The Closer

This year, Trevor Hoffman became baseball's all-time save leader. Lets look a bit deeper at these stats compared those work horses from years past. So everyone is on the same page, here are the save leaders:

Player

SV

Hoffman*

482

L Smith

478

J Franco

424

M Rivera*

413

Eckersley

390

J Reardon

367

R Myers

347

R Fingers

341

Wetteland

330


I have left out a lot of other stats that I will include later. As I have stated before, I never played baseball, but love this sport. In this blog, I am going to show how the closer roll has changed even since the early 80's. My disclaimer is, I am not trying to take anything away from Hoffman and his accomplishments, just providing some food for thought.

Lee Smith was a bit more than just a closer during his time in MLB. He has 400 more innings than Hoffman and appeared in 200 more games. A lot of people will say that Hoffman was more efficient. I am under the argument that the role of closer has changed. Players like Smith, "the Goose" and Eckersley as well as most closers from the 70's and 80's did a lot of 2 inning saves. In a lot of ways, being their own "setup" man. Hoffman appears to be a 9th inning only sort of guy as his career continues.

Here is Lee’s career Games/IP:

Season

G

IP

SV

1980

18

21.2

0

1981

40

66.2

1

1982

72

117

17

1983

66

103.1

29

1984

69

101

33

1985

65

97.2

33

1986

66

90.1

31

1987

62

83.2

36

1988

64

83.2

29

1989

64

70.2

25

1990

11

14.1

4

1990

53

68.2

27

1991

67

73

47

1992

70

75

43

1993

8

8

3

1993

55

50

43

1994

41

38.1

33

1995

52

49.1

37

1996

11

11

0

1996

43

44.1

2

1997

25

21.2

5


Here is Hoffman's Games/IP:

Season

G

IP

SV

1993

28

35.2

2

1993

39

54.1

3

1994

47

56

20

1995

55

53.1

31

1996

70

88

42

1997

70

81.1

37

1998

66

73

53

1999

63

67.1

40

2000

70

72.1

43

2001

62

60.1

43

2002

61

59.1

38

2003

9

9

0

2004

55

54.2

41

2005

60

57.2

43

2006

65

63

46


As you can see, Hoffman's career high for innings in a season is 81, while Lee had a high of 117 in 1982. However, Lee and Hoffman have about the same average of innings per season 62ish innings. Towards the end of Lee's career, as the arm started to wear down a bit, he was a one inning closer sort. Hoffman started his one inning closer duties shortly after Lee retired. Now I am going to bring in a 3rd example, Mariano Rivera.

Season

G

IP

SV

1995

19

67

0

1996

61

107.2

5

1997

66

71.2

43

1998

54

61.1

36

1999

66

69

45

2000

66

75.2

36

2001

71

80.2

50

2002

45

46

28

2003

64

70.2

40

2004

74

78.2

53

2005

71

78.1

43

2006

63

75

34


It could be argued that Rivera played on teams that had a tendency to win with large margins, a place were a save would be impossible to achieve. During these times, he may have seen a batter or two in order to keep his arm in shape.

Basically this point of this blog has no point, but to give other baseball lovers something they like to look at...stats. As with any statistic, there is a lot more information behind them.

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