Best Places To Watch The World Cup Detroit The 600 Save Closer

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The 600 Save Closer

Rescue history

The Save did not become an official Major League Baseball (MLB) statistic until 1969. Prior to the 1970s, starting pitchers usually completed games. When they were unable to finish the game, managers had to call up a group of “has-beens” they kept in the bullpen. Pitchers with unusual styles, such as knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, made their living out of the bullpen. In the 1970s, managers began looking for pitchers who could be counted on to get a few critical outs toward the end of the game. The great Yankees teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s relied on one of the best relievers; Hall of Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage. Gossage came on purely in relief with the Chicago White Sox, but had his best results with the Yankees. Fans began to pay attention to the saves the relievers earned by entering the game with a slim lead and holding on for the win. In the 1980s, pitchers like Dan Quisenberry of the Royals, Bruce Sutter with the Cubs and Cardinals, and Dennis Eckersley with the Athletics became stars in their own right. The latter two are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The relief role has evolved towards increased specialization. The era of the Iron Man closer during the 7th inning was short lived. In the late 1980s, closers were only asked to get three outs. From 1969 to 1985, lump sum savings accounted for only 21% of all savings. By 1991, single shift savings had risen to more than 40% of all savings. In 1992, more than half of the savings were one-time. In 1999, it was more than 70%. Now in 2011, the single innings save rate has reached an all-time high of an incredible 85.3%.

What is a save in baseball?

In MLB, a pitcher is credited with a save when he meets all four of the following conditions:

1. Is the starting pitcher in a game won by his team;

2. He is not a winning pitcher;

3. He is credited with at least “…” innings pitched; and

4. Meets one of the following conditions:

1. Enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning

2. Enters the game, regardless of the count, with a potential tie either on base, at bat, or on board.

3. Pitches at least three innings

One Shift Savings Specialist

The New York Yankees signed Rivera in 1990 and was considered a starting pitcher. He progressed up the minor league ladder without fanfare. He had a normal starting repertoire; a straight fastball that tops out at 91 or 92 mph, a slider and a changeup. In 1995, Yankees general manager Gene Michael brought him from the Columbus Clippers to the parent club, and Rivera put up average numbers but was sent back to the minors. The team was hoping to acquire pitcher David Wells from the Detroit Tigers, and Rivera was a small part of the trade bait. Sometimes the deals you don’t make are better than the deals you make.

Rivera’s unexpected performance in the 1995 playoffs convinced management that he could be a stronger weapon coming out of the bullpen than he could as a starter. He gave up 3 hits, one walk, 8 strikeouts and no runs in 5 1/3 innings. The Yankees already had a dominant closer, John Wetteland, and when Rivera continued to demonstrate his swagger, manager Joe Torre made him Wetteland’s setup man. In 1996, if the Yankees were ahead after six innings, the game was effectively over as Rivera pitched the seventh and eighth and Wetteland pitched the ninth. Rivera won eight games and lost three with an impressive 2.09 ERA. In 107 2/3 innings, he struck out 130 batters and gave up 73 hits. (The standard for perfection is to strike out one batter and not give up more than one hit per inning). Rivera developed a pitch that made him great; sharp breaking, mid-90s mile per hour (mph) cut fastball.

Enter the Sandman

In the summer of 1999, the Yankee Stadium production crew began playing the song “Enter Sandman” by the heavy metal band Metallica as Rivera’s entrance music. The crew chose the song after witnessing in the previous World Series the San Diego fans’ enthusiastic response to Trevor Hoffman’s impending entrance into the game to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.” Although Rivera was indifferent to his entrance music, “Enter Sandman” soon became as much a part of his identity as his editor.

3000 accesses verse 600 savings

Marian’s low-key approach to the major league record most important to his position gets little notice. Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hit watch lasted 2 months, and when he hit 3,000, the congratulatory messages continued for several more weeks.

Maybe that’s because there hasn’t been as much interest in tracking saves compared to hits, wins or home runs. Every day players have a benchmark; 3000 hits. What is the benchmark for closer? Is that 600 savings? So in the last 42 years, only two closers have accumulated 600 saves. I’d say that’s where the current benchmark should be. Keep in mind that the all-time 3 is Lee Smith (retired) with 478, and the closest active closer is Francisco Cordero with 323. At age 36, he’s unlikely to get another 300 in his career. Closers no longer have 15-year careers. Another important factor is that the closer has to play for a winning team for so long and also avoid serious injuries during his career.

It’s about judging 3,000 hits vs. all time leader. It is much more impressive to be an absolute leader in something. The all-time leader is Pete Rose. The best winner of all time is Cy Young. The all-time home run leader is Barry Bonds. The all-time leader is Mariano Rivera.

There are 28 players in the 3,000 hit club, 24 pitchers in the 300 win club and 25 players in the 500 home run club. However, there are only 2 closers in the 600 saves club.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one will have more mammals than Rivera. Even at 41, I haven’t heard anything about retirement. So who knows what his final total will be, but DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak will be a record that may never be broken.

Is 600 savings a big deal?

During Mariano Rivera’s career, he is 75-57 with 8 40-plus seasons (39 in 2008), including 2 50-plus save seasons. He led the major leagues in saves in 1999, 2001 and 2004. In 1,208 innings pitched, he had 1,107 strikeouts with just 274 walks and a 2.22 ERA. He has an ERA Plus of 205 (major league record) and a WHIP of .999. During Trevor Hoffman’s career, he had a record of 61-75 with 601 saves, an ERA of 2.87 and an ERA Plus of 141 and a WHIP of 1.06.

Mariano Rivera is now the all-time career save leader with his 602nd save. As a Yankee fan, I watch Yankee games on the YES Network and for the past few weeks I have listened to the Yankee announcers tell us that Mariano Rivera is the best closer in MLB history. Now actually he probably is, but what has been completely ignored is that he wasn’t the first MLB to come close to reaching 600 saves. This milestone was first achieved last year by Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman appeared in 1,035 with no starts, while Rivera appeared in 1,038 games with 10 starts. With Rivera’s postseason record (42 saves) and the fact that he will likely add many more saves before he is done, I believe the argument that he will be the best is solid. But to completely ignore the fact that Hoffman had already done what Rivera was trying to emulate was ridiculous.

Just as Jim Thome’s march to 600 home runs was largely ignored by the media, Rivera’s journey to 600 saves was nothing compared to Derek Jeter’s countdown to 3,000 hits.

It’s 600 saves a lot… ABSOLUTELY!

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