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08-24-2004, 11:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Originally Posted by
[and note, I don't follow baseball much so this is pretty generic]
a guy that plays in less than 5% of the total innings of a team's total innings - in less than 1/2 the games, can be 'much more valuable' than the team's best hitter, by far. Without Gagne, who has appeared in 53 games likely would lose some of those games he saved (35) and maybe won (4). And maybe they lose a few others in non-save situations, but it's difficult to tell. But let's say it's somewhat of a drastic number, call it 18 more losses (about 1/2 the saves).
Without Beltre, who's appeared in 119 games, how many more losses would they have? He leads the team in most every offensive category by a decent margin. He's not a bad fielder (9 errors ain't so bad). It not 'much' less than 18; many may believe it's more than 18.
I dunno...I'll stick to hockey...
I'm not arguing any point you made, just throwing my 2 cents in on the importance of closers and why they should be considered for awards.
Having a closer that is basically a guarantee to either close out the win or put up 0's in the late innings is probably the most important thing to have on a ball club. Rivera and Gagne are the two best examples of this kind of player. There aren't many of them, so those that are out there are that much more valuable.
First off, when you talk about putting up runs, it's a team effort. Guys have to get on base, move runners over, get big hits etc. Obviously, there are 9 guys in that lineup to get this done, meaning if one guy fails the next guy can get a hit and pick him up. You might see a team win 7 games in a row on a big hit late in the game, and for each day of that week you might see a different player getting that big hit. This is not the case for closers. Being a closer is perhaps the most mentally and physically challenging position to play in baseball (catcher is a close second). There is no one else to pick you up if you fail. If Rivera comes in and blows a save, the game is on his shoulders and he's blamed for the loss. Also, guys like Rivera have to be ready to be at their best every day, because again one bad day for a closer and your blowing a save in Boston and the finger is pointed to you for the loss, not at the left fielder who may have gone 0-4. Not to mention, closing a game in itself is a feat and is something that not many can do, so a guy like Rivera is that much more valuable to your team.
Secondly, having a great closer changes the way you manage the entire game. In 96 the Yanks were basically playing 6 inning games, especially in the playoffs. They went out in the 1st inning and said, 'ok we need to win 6 innings'. Because they knew that 7-8-9 we virtually automatic with Rivera and Wetteland. The same can be said for the Yanks today with Quantrill, Gordon and Rivera. If the Yanks can win 6 innings than they win the game most of the time. This takes a lot of pressure off players, especially the starting pitcher. Not to mention, managers manage the game differently early in the game, being more agressive in most situations because they know if they can take a lead to the 7th they have the W most of the time. Also, look back at a lot of those late game heroics and walk off homers and such by the Yanks. Most of those moments were made possible because Rivera pitched a scoreless 9 and sometimes 10th.
If a closer has the stats, like Mariano projects to have this year, they should be considered for the MVP. A great closer is not only one of the most valuable players to have, but they also have maybe the greatest affect on how their team plays the game. What Sheff is doing for this team is amazing, and he deserves a lot of respect, but truly I think that Rivera is the MVP of this team right now. Him and Gordon are pretty much the only consistent pitchers on the whole team, and good pitching beats good hitting... especially in the playoffs.
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