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Where Have All the Gagnes Gone?
2006-05-02 22:25
by Mike Carminati

Glancing at the leaders in saves after one month of play, one will see more unfamiliar names than familiar ones. For every Lidge and Isringhausen, there are two Papelbons, Jenksi, or Turnbows. Even a few of the veteran names are better known as setup than as closers (Gordon, Weathers, Reitsma).

B.J. Ryan left Baltimore for a massive free agent contract in Toronto. He now owns five saves to his replacement Chris Ray's 7. Tom Gordon, a newly reinvented closer in Philly, has out-saved Billy Wagner, the man he replaced (8 to 7), as well as Mariano Rivera, the man he used to set up for (8 to 4). Dan Miceli, who had a brief trial in the Yankee bullpen a few years ago, now has as many saves as Mo for the Devil Rays (of all teams), but Rivera always seems to start slow. Miceli, who has been in the majors since 1993, has already recorded his second highest save total trailing just his 1995 total of 21.

So, not to overly belabor the point, but this has been an odd year so far for closers.

Anyway, with all of the young and untried closers, I wondered with what the highest save total was for a rookie. Of course, it does depend on your definition of a rookie—I looked at guys with fewer than 50 career innings and 40 career games to start the season.

Here they are with the previous game and innings totals if you don't like my definition and want to filter down your own list:

NameYrSavesPrev GPrev IP
Kazuhiro Sasaki20003700.0
Todd Worrell19863617 21.7
Dan Quisenberry19803332 40.0
Billy Koch19993100.0
Kerry Ligtenberg19983015 15.0
Rich Loiselle1997295 20.7
Doug Henry19922932 36.0
Mike MacDougal2003279 24.3
Gregg Olson19892710 11.0
Wayne Granger19692734 44.0
Lance Carter20032614 25.7
Jorge Julio20022518 21.3
Pete Ladd19832526 30.3
Dick Radatz19622400.0
Huston Street20052300.0
Ernie Camacho19842316 38.7
Doug Corbett19802300.0
Rawly Eastwick1975228 17.7
Ken Tatum19692200.0
Yhency Brazoban20052131 32.7
Dan Miceli19952137 32.7
Salome Barojas19822100.0
Frank Linzy1965218 16.7
Frank DiPino1983208 30.7
Doug Bird19732000.0
Ryne Duren19582015 44.7

It seems that at least one of the younger guys will beat Sasaki's "record" easily this year, but there's a lot of season left to play.

Besides the neophytes, there are a number of veteran closers who are still pretty young and will be approaching the 100 save milestone. Lidge and Francisco Rodriguez both came up in 2002 and should both pass 100 if they remain healthy. Chad Cordero could join them if his team can win more than a handful of games this year.

That made me wonder who was fastest to grab 100 saves. Here are the men to do it within five years of reaching the majors:

NameYrPrev SvYr SvTot SvTot Yrs
Kazuhiro Sasaki200282371193
Billy Koch200164361003
Troy Percival199866421084
Todd Worrell198874321064
Bruce Sutter197968371054
Dick Radatz196578221004
Dan Plesac198967331004
Bobby Thigpen199091571485
Dan Quisenberry198391451365
Trevor Hoffman199798371355
Gregg Olson199295361315
Mariano Rivera199984451295
Rod Beck199594331275
John Franco198877391165
Bryan Harvey199167461135
Robb Nen199773351085
Eric Gagne200352551075
Roger McDowell198980231035
Ugueth Urbina199961411025
Antonio Alfonseca200174281025
Danys Baez200561411025
Billy Wagner199962391015
Billy Taylor199974261005

It will be interesting to see how some of these younger guys and retrofitted vets perform over the entire season. If teams see that they can cut payroll by going to someone untried in the closer role, the practice, which has been gaining momentum over the last couple of years, might become standard. Why sign B.J. Ryan if you can get Chris Ray? If you don't have Mariano Rivera, why not try someone new instead an established—read overpriced—but mediocre closer?

2006-05-02 23:44:49
1.   das411
Why hold on to Danys Baez when Dan Miceli will hurt your team less??

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