Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Closers

The closer each year has almost always been a favorite player of mine.  I have no idea why.  Closers are just fun.  They often have an outrageous personality.  You almost have to be arrogant to be a closer.  It's only annoying when they do not perform well or you like the other team.  So yeah, ever since I got into baseball, I have been a very big fan of closers.

The below are a year by year look at the Red Sox closers since I was fan:

JEFF REARDON:  Reardon was the first Red Sox closer I was aware of and he had a terrific 1991 season.  Reardon was an All Star in 1991 and set a new Red Sox record for saves in a season with 40.

Others recording saves: Greg Harris (2), Jeff Gray (1), Tony Fossas (1), Dan Petry (1)

JEFF REARDON:  Reardon was 36 in 1992 and was starting to show his age.  He did break the career saves record and had 27 saves before being traded to the Braves.  They went with a committee after the trade.

Others recording saves: Greg Harris (4), Danny Darwin (3), Tony Fossas (2), Joe Hesketh (1), Paul Quantrill (1), Ken Ryan (1)

JEFF RUSSELL:  After trading Reardon in 1992, Boston was on the lookout for a closer for the 1993 season.  Russell was signed after the team nearly signed Tom Henke.  Russell racked up 33 saves and a 2.70 ERA in a very good season.

Others recording saves: Greg Harris (8), Paul Quantrill (1), Ken Ryan (1), Joe Hesketh (1)

KEN RYAN:  Russell started the season as the closer but had a rough time and was eventually traded to Cleveland.  Ken Ryan took over and lead the team with 13 saves with a 2.44 ERA.

Others recording saves: Jeff Russell (12), Greg Harris (2), Chris Howard (1), Tony Fossas (1), Todd Frohwirth (1)

RICK AGUILERA:  The Red Sox started the season with Ryan as the closer but he struggled.  They then went with Stan Belinda for a little while but eventually decided to pick up Aguilera at the trade deadline in order to have a shot at the playoffs.  Aguilera was great down the stretch notching 20 saves and a 2.67 ERA.

Others recording saves:  Stan Belinda (10), Ken Ryan (7), Mike Maddux (1), Joe Hudson (1)

HEATHCLIFF SLOCUMB:  Aguilera returned to the Twins as a free agent after the 1995 season so Boston acquired Slocumb in a trade with the Phillies.  Slocumb had a great season in 1996 picking up 31 saves and 88 strikeouts in 83.1 innings.  He had a 3.1 WAR as a closer, which is impressive.

Others recording saves: Stan Belinda (2), Pat Mahomes (2), Mike Stanton (1), Joe Hudson (1)

HEATHCLIFF SLOCUMB:  1997 was not nearly as good for Slocumb.  He only had 17 saves for Boston and blew some big ones.  He was eventually traded to the Mariners in what would be a terrific trade for Boston.  Tom Gordon took over after the trade.

Others recording saves: Tom Gordon (11), Butch Henry (6), Kerry Lacy (3), Jim Corsi (2), Chris Hammond (1)

TOM GORDON:  In what was easily one of the greatest seasons by a Red Sox closer, Gordon set a new single season saves record for the team with 46 and was an All Star.  He even received votes for MVP.

Others recording saves: Derek Lowe (4), Dennis Eckersley (1), Rich Garces (1), Ron Mahay (1)

DEREK LOWE:  Gordon started off the season as closer but had some injury problems.  Lowe and Tim 
Wakefield actually tied with 15 saves, but Lowe finished more games.  

Others recording saves: Tim Wakefield (15), Tom Gordon (11), Rod Beck (3), John Wasdin (2), Mark Guthrie (2), Rich Garces (2)

DEREK LOWE:  The sinkerballer was terrific in 2000, saving 42 games with a 2.56 ERA, and an All Star berth.

Others recording saves: Rich Garces (1), Hipolito Pichardo (1), Bryce Florie (1), John Wasdin (1)

DEREK LOWE:  Lowe started to falter as closer in 2001, but still recorded 24 saves.  He was moved to the rotation later in the season and Ugueth Urbina was acquired to serve as closer.

Others recording saves: Ugueth Urbina (9), Rod Beck (6), Rolando Arrojo (5), Tim Wakefield (3), Rich Garces (1)

UGUETH URBINA:  Urbina was an All Star in 2002 with 40 saves and a 3.00 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 60 innings.

Others recording saves: Tim Wakefield (3), Alan Embree (2), Frank Castillo (1), Casey Fossum (1), Rolando Arrojo (1), Willie Banks (1), Chris Haney (1), Wayne Gomes (1)

BYUNG-HYUN KIM:  2003 was the year of the ill-fated closer-by-committee approach.  It did not work. Boston eventually traded Shea Hillenbrand to the Diamondbacks for Kim, who saved 16 games in 2003 with a 3.18 ERA.  Scott Williamson did some great work as closer in the postseason.

Others recording saves: Brandon Lyon (9), Chad Fox (3), Mike Timlin (2), Tim Wakefield (1), Casey Fossum (1), Alan Embree (1), Jason Shiell (1), Bronson Arroyo (1), Robert Person (1)

KEITH FOULKE:  After having trouble with the closer-by-committee in 2003, Boston signed the best closer available on the free agent market in Foulke.  He saved 32 games with a terrific 2.17 ERA and was lights-out in the postseason.

Others recording saves: Curtis Leskanic (2), Mike Timlin (1), Scott Williamson (1)

KEITH FOULKE:  Foulke struggled in 2005, leading to an infamous comment about Burger King.  He only picked up 15 saves and Boston had to resort to some desperate measures as will be seen by some of the other pitchers who saved games in '05.  Foulke's ERA was an ugly 5.91

Others recording saves: Mike Timlin (13), Curt Schilling (9), Alan Embree (1)

JONATHAN PAPELBON:  Rookie Papelbon solved the closer problem for the long term.  He had a fantastic season and came in second in the Rookie of the Year vote, and might have won it had he not been injured the final month of the season.  He saved 35 games with a remarkable 0.92 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 69.1 innings.  He was also an All Star.

Others recording saves: Mike Timlin (9), Julian Tavarez (1), Javier Lopez (1)

JONATHAN PAPELBON:  Papelbon had another strong All Star season, saving 37 with a 1.85 ERA and 84 strikeouts in only 58.1 innings.

Others recording saves: Hideki Okajima (5), Mike Timlin (1), Manny Delcarmen (1), J.C. Romero (1)

JONATHAN PAPELBON:  Another terrific All Star season for Papelbon (41 saves, 2.34 ERA, 77 strikeouts), but his mouth was starting to be a problem.

Others recording saves: Manny Delcarmen (2), Craig Hansen (2), Hideki Okajima (1), Mike Timlin (1)

JONATHAN PAPELBON:  Ho hum, another All Star season for Paps (38 saves, 1.85 ERA, 76 strikeouts).

Others recording saves: Takashi Saito (2), Daniel Bard (1)

JONATHAN PAPELBON:  Papelbon actually had a rough year.  He still picked up 37 saves, but his ERA ballooned to 3.90.  His strikeout rate was in line with his averages.  He missed the All Star game for the first time in his career.

Others recording saves: Daniel Bard (3), Ramon Ramirez (2), Felix Doubront (2)

JONATHAN PAPELBON:  He blew the save on the last game of the season, but Papelbon actually had a decent season.  He had 31 saves and a 2.94 ERA with 87 strikeouts.

Others recording saves: Alfredo Aceves (2), Daniel Bard (1), Scott Atchison (1), Felix Doubront (1)

ALFREDO ACEVES:  Papelbon bolted as a free agent to Philadelphia before even being offered arbitration.  The Red Sox made two trades to acquire closers in Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon.  Injuries or ineffectiveness limited both of them, so they turned to Aceves who struggled at times.  He finished with 25 saves, a 2-10 record, and a 5.36 ERA.

Others recording saves: Andrew Bailey (6), Vicente Padilla (1), Mark Melancon (1), Franklin Morales (1), Junichi Tazawa (1)

JOEL HANRAHAN:  Boston attempted another trade to bring over a closer.  Hanrahan has been a little rough so far this year, but he has notched three saves.  He blew a big one and is currently on the disabled list.

Others recording saves: NONE

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