Sunday, May 5, 2013
Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 4: Bob Stanley
Stanley came up in 1977 and split time as a starter and reliever. He was mostly used in relief in 1978 and went 15-2 with a 2.60 ERA and 10 saves. He was never really known as a strikeout pitcher and he only struck out 38 in 141.2 innings. He received votes for both the MVP and Cy Young Award. In 1979 he made his first All Star team going 16-12 with a 3.99 ERA.
In 1980 Stanley was shifted into more of a bullpen role. He still started 17 games, but finished 25 with 14 saves. He still won 10 games. From 1981 through 1986 though he only started two games. This was an important time period as closers were becoming a much more prominent part of baseball. Bruce Sutter, Dave Righetti, and Dan Quisenberry were all highly successful closers at that time.
1982 through 1984 were his most successful seasons as a reliever. In 1982 Stanley went 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA and 14 saves forming an impressive bullpen tandem with Mark Clear. 1983 was Stanley's best season and was one of the most successful closer seasons in Red Sox history, certainly since Dick Radatz. He set a record with 33 saves and finished the season 8-10 with a 2.85 ERA. His saves record held until 1991.
Unfortunately Stanley played an instrumental role in the 1986 World Series loss, uncorking a wild pitch that tied Game 6 and then giving up the go ahead run on the Mookie Wilson dribbler that went through Bill Buckner's legs. The next season Stanley was used as a starter but went 4-15. He was a reliever the rest of his time with Boston.
Stanley retired in 1989 and held team records for appearances (637) and saves (188). His saves record has since been eclipsed by Jonathan Papelbon but his appearances record seems safe for quite some time.