October 13, 2012

The Closer

A shut down closer …
Closers are considered an indispensable part of Major League Baseball teams. Former Tiger John Hiller once was an elite closer, saving 38 games in the early '70s. Closers in the old days would sometimes pitch two or three innings — and often came into a tight save situation with runners on second and third and one out or so. You know who I'm talking about: Rich Gossage, Dan Quisenberry, Willie Hernandez.

In 1984, even when Willie Hernandez saved 32 games, he threw 140 innings in 80 games, his sort of co–closer Aurelio Lopez threw 137 innings and saved 14 other games. Neither of them were high strikeout pitchers. Hernandez actually won the MVP and Cy Young awards that season. 

I can name every single closer the Tigers have had since the '70s. I used to be able to tell you each league leader each year, but that memory has been replaced by other things — more important stuff, you know. But, I've never been a big fan of the closer. 

I think it's an overrated position, maybe the most overrated in baseball. Come in and pitch one inning with no one on base and get credited with a save. Come on, really? I thought maybe the rule had changed since the '70s, but really, it's how managers have manipulated the rule. 

We talk about the mentality of the closer and all that jive, but come on — how many saves really save a game. The way the position is used these days, it should be called a "Game Closed" or something like that. I mean, the way the position is manipulated, the save statistics are way blown out of proportion. 

If he's not the closer on your team, you don't like Jose Valverde. 
Could Al-Al Alburquerque be next year's closer? 

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