Posts Tagged ‘Goose Gossage’

The MLB awards season continues here today, but where the games usually ended this past summer. It’s time to recognize the top relief pitchers in each league, one that is fairly familiar to these parts, and another that may very well be on his way to digging in the same fashion…



2014 National League Goose Gossage Winner—Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

It is becoming old hat at this point for this nod to go the Braves fireballer. Well actually, the hat probably looks about as worn out as Kimbrel’s does by September, because since he took ahold of the Braves’ reins in the ninth innings four years ago, he has set the curve for all relievers in the game.

For the fourth consecutive year, he landed at least a share of the NL saves title, this time notching 47 in 51 opportunities. It is the third straight season he converted at least 92% of his save chances, and by reaching at least 40 saves this past year, he became the third player to ever reach that mark in four consecutive seasons.

To be only 26 years old, his performances are becoming regularly aligned with history at quite an early rate. He is already the all-time saves leader in Atlanta, as well as becoming the only player to begin his career with four saves titles. Via his combo of power fastball, which he varies between 95-to-100 mph at will, and spiking curveball that scrapes 90 mph itself, he has become a strikeout factory. He became the fastest pitcher to ever reach 400 K’s this year, needing just over 230 innings to reach the mark (a rate of 14.8 k’s per nine innings). For his career, he has rang up strikeouts against 42% of his opponents, and he allowed six less baserunners than innings pitched this year.

The numbers are regularly impressive, but what he represented in Atlanta has continued to increase in value yearly. He is the lynch pin of the Brave pitching staff, the truest example of what it means to make playing a team an “8 inning affair”. In a year where the Braves bullpen had to confront more injuries than in many others, his presence assured that the end result remained the same.

And has long as he continues to man the ninth with that signature glare into home plate, beating the Braves stands to be task done much easier earlier than later.

Runner Up 1: Aroldis Chapman, Reds

Runner Up 2: Mark Melanco, Pirates



2014 American League Goose Gossage Relief Pitcher of the Year—Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals

The American League’s answer to Kimbrel is another compact, fireballer that keeps the opportunities to an absolute minimum. In fact, Holland was even more proficient in slamming the door shut, closing out 46 of the 48 opportunities he was presented with. It was a continuation of the reputation he put into the atmosphere last year: Greg Holland is the best in the biz in the junior circuit.

His 5’10 and barely 200 pound structure belies the fact that he possesses some of the most overpowering raw stuff in the game. Holland’s 46 saves were good for second in the AL, while he converted at least 96% of his chances, the top mark in the league. The top gun in the three-headed KC monster pen of Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera continued his dominant fashion in how he goes about his business, striking out 90 batters in just over 60 innings and allowing only 57 baserunners on the year—of which only 10 runs were credit against him, for an ERA of 1.44.

One of the Royals great strengths as they made their first run to the postseason in 29 years was the reliability of its bullpen. With Holland—who made his second All-Star appearance in as many years—leading the way, the KC bullpen tied for the AL lead in saves, led in save percentage and yielded the third fewest bases of any AL unit. For Holland, it continued a two year streak where he has posted an unworldly

line of converting 93-of-99 save opportunities, while posting a 1.32 ERA over his last 129.1 innings and striking out 193 batters against only 38 walks and a .170 average against him.

The question of who would be the next standard bearer in the ninth inning after Mariano Rivera walked away seemed to be simply answered by saying Kimbrel. But Holland is making quite the push to make that a “not so fast” conclusion.

Runner Up 1: Fernando Rodney, Mariners

Runner Up 2: Jake McGee, Rays


Past Winners:

2013: Craig Kimbrel (Braves), Koji Uehara (Red Sox)

2012: Craig Kimbrel (Braves), Fernando Rodney (Rays)


For more commentary on the awards year, the free agent bonanza to boom and the game just being the game, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan



There have been generations of great players in Major League Baseball. Since the league’s official inception around 1869 there have been many different eras and changes to the game. It is difficult to place each great player against each other, but here is the CHEAP SEATS take on the greatest players, by position, the game has ever produced. (All stats are current of September 20, 2010)


In the final entry in the GOAT series analyzing each position’s greatest players in over a century plus of Major League Baseball, we shift symbolically to where it often ends in real games, the relief pitchers. This is a role that is quite different from the role of a starter and is also in it’s relative infancy to other roles in the game. For years, the starting pitcher would often pitch the entire game, everyday, for his team (Old Hoss Radbourn once started over 40 games in a row in the 1800’s). However, in the mid-to-late 70’s, the overall development of a layered pitching staff developed and now it has become chiefly centered around the “closer”.

Hoffman has more saves than any player, but does this seal him as the greater closer ever?

The closer is called upon often to get the last few outs of the game, and has drastically altered and shifted the importance of winning early in baseball. This fresh pitcher throws to very few players and is often one of the hardest throwing to most effective pitchers on the team. Having a good closer, will make the difference often between a team that can win a few games, and one that can go all the way in the modern game. With no further delay, here are the game’s greatest stoppers in the roles brief, but significant, history.

1. Mariano Rivera: New York Yankees (1995-Present): 79.5 points

–          2.22 ERA, 558 Saves, 1050 K’s, 827 Games Finished, 89% Saves Converted

–          5 World Series, 6 40 SV years, 5 Rolaids Awards , 3 Saves Champs, 10 All-Star Games

He is nearly universally regarded as the greatest reliever and closer in the history of the game. Has the second most saves in history and almost certainly will finish will the most ever. He is third most efficient closer of all time. His ERA is the lowest career mark of any pitch since 1920. His postseason dominance has sealed his legacy in the game. His 39 postseason saves (including 23 consecutive), 0.79 ERA and 34.1 consecutive scoreless innings are all-time postseason records.

Rivera's late inning & postseason reputation is unparalleled, placing him amongst the most effective players ever.

2. Trevor Hoffman: San Diego Padres (1993-Present): 68 points

–          2.87 ERA, 600 Saves, 1132 K’s, 853 Games Finished, 89% Saves Converted

–          0 World Series , 9 40 Save Yrs, 2 Rolaids Awards, 2 Saves Champs, 7 All-Star Games

The all-time saves leader and the first player to ever reach 600 in the category. No player has more 40 save seasons than him. His 8 consecutive 30 save seasons, 14 consecutive 30 save and 15 consecutive 20 save campaigns are both Major League records. He also has the most games finished ever. His change-up is among the greatest pitches ever.

3. Rollie Fingers: Oakland A’s (1968-1985): 60.5 points

–          2.90 ERA, 341 Saves, 1299 K’s, 709 Games Finished, 76% Saves Converted

–          3 World Series , 0 40 SV years, 6 Rolaids/MVP/Cy Young Award, 3 Saves Champs, 7 All-Star Games

He revolutionized and brought the role of the late inning specialist to the game. He became the all-time saves leader in 1980 with his 228th save and was the career leader for another 12 years. He become the first reliever to win the Cy Young and MVP awards and was the second relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame.

While his trademark mustache is unmistakable, Fingers pioneered closer role in the mid 70's 3 consecutive World Series titles.

4. Lee Smith: Chicago Cubs (1980-1997): 60 points

–          3.03 ERA, 478 Saves, 1251 K’s , 802 Games Finished, 82% Saves Converted

–          0 World Series, 2 40 SV years, 3 Rolaids Awards, 4 Saves Champs, 7 All-Star Games

Held the Major League record for saves from 1993-2006. Set the National League record for saves with 47 in 1991. At one point in time he held the record for career saves for both the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Finished 2nd in the 1991 Cy Young vote.

5. Dennis Eckersley: Oakland A’s/Boston Red Sox (1975-1998): 54.5 points

–          3.50 ERA, 390 Saves, 2401 K’s, 577 Games Finished, 85% Saves Converted

–          1 World Series, 2 40 Save years, 4 Rolaids Award/Cy Young/MVP, 2 Saves Champs, 6 All-Star Games

–          Achieved nearly 200 wins in a career that began as a starter, but became greater later as a converted closer. One of two players to have both a 20 win and 50 save season. He gave up 5 runs the entire 1990 season and finished with a 0.61 ERA and became the only reliever in history to have more saves (48) than base runners (45) over the course of a season. In 1992, he became one of three players to ever win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season.

Aided by his unique sidearm delivery, Eckersley had one of the greatest stretches in pitching history during the early 90's.

6. Billy Wagner: Houston Astros (1995-Present): 53 points

–          2.37 ERA, 420 Saves, 1182 K’s, 698 Games Finished, 86% Saves Converted

–          0 World Series, 2 40 SV years, 1 Rolaids Award, 0 Saves Champs, 6 All-Star Games

One of the most intimidating pitchers in history, In 2005, he threw 159 pitches that exceeded 100 miles per hour. He has averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings for his career. Despite pitching usually less than two innings per game, he has passed 100 strikeouts three times in his career. He has six seasons over 35 saves in career.

7. John Franco: New York Mets (1984-2005): 51 points

–          2.89 ERA, 424 Saves, 975 K’s, 774 Games Finished, 81% Saves Converted

–          0 World Series, 0 40 SV years, 2 Rolaids Awards, 3 Saves Champ, 4 All-Star Games

His 424 saves are the most ever by left handed reliever, and his 1,119 games pitched are a National League record. At the time of his retirement, his career saves total was the second highest ever, the fourth most currently. Despite never reaching 40 saves, he had eight seasons over 30, including five consecutive from 1987-91.

8. Bruce Sutter: St. Louis Cardinals/Chicago Cubs (1976-1988): 49.5 points

–          2.83 ERA, 300 Saves, 861 K’s, 512 Games Finished, 75% Saves Converted

–          1 World Series, 1 40 SV year, 5 Rolaids Awards/MVP, 5 Saves Champs, 6 All-Star Games

–          He pioneered the split-finger fastball in route to becoming the only pitcher to lead the National League in saves five times. He tied the NL record for consecutive strikeouts in a game for a reliever in 1977 with six, including a nine pitch, three strikeout inning. He became the first pitcher to never start a game to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

9. Goose Gossage: New York Yankees (1972-1974): 46.5 points

–          3.01 ERA, 310 Saves, 1502 K’s, 681 Games Finished, 73% Saves Converted

–          1 World Series , 0 40 SV years, 1 Rolaids Award, 3 Saves Champs, 9 All-Star Games

He was the first true example of the intimidating, hard throwing finisher now common in the game. His career strikeout total is second amongst players who served primarily as relievers. He ranks third in relief innings pitched and relief wins as well. Over a seven year stretch from 1977-83, he never had an ERA over 2.62, with a low mark of 0.77 in 1981. 112 blown saves are a Major League record. He threw the final out in division, league or World Series clincher 7 times.

"The Goose" was the original intimidating late reliever when first deployed for Yankees in the late 70's.

10. Hoyt Wilhelm: Chicago White Sox/Baltimore Orioles (1952-1972): 46.5 points

–          2.52 ERA, 227 Saves, 1,610 K’s, 651 Games Finished, 79% Saves Converted

–          1 World Series, 0 40 SV years, 0 Rolaids Awards, 0 Saves Champs, 8 All-Star Games, 1 No-Hitter He was the first pitcher who primarily pitched in relief to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He is the first player to reach 200 saves and appear in 1,000 games. His 124 relief wins are a Major League record. He is different from modern closers, as he used a knuckleball primarily, which allowed him to pitch until he was nearly 50 years old. He threw 8.2 innings of no-hit relief in 1959, after entering in the 9th inning and not surrendering at hit until the 17th.

Left on deck: Randy Myers, Jeff Reardon, Francisco Rodriguez

Achievement Measurements: World Series = .5 pts, 40 Save Season = 1 pt, Rolaids Relief Award, Cy Young Awards & MVPs = 2 pts, Saves Champion = 1 pt, All-Star Game = 1 pt, No-Hitter (if from starting appearance) = 2 pts

If curious on other scoring measures, please contact me as the point rubric was adjusted from starting pitcher measures from Volume 9.