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Goose Gossage says Rivera not best closer in history and Krod is a clown!


Gurgi

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Except that Gossage unequivocally belongs in the HOF.

Rice ... not so much.

Actually, if you look at something like Rally's WAR database, there are no relievers who are clear-cut HOFers. Even Rivera, who is the all-time leader in relief WAR, has a career value on par with Tony Perez, Chet Lemon, and Luis Aparicio. And that includes leverage.

Gossage is right around 40 WAR, which is about even with Rice.

I don't know what to make of that.

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Actually, if you look at something like Rally's WAR database, there are no relievers who are clear-cut HOFers. Even Rivera, who is the all-time leader in relief WAR, has a career value on par with Tony Perez, Chet Lemon, and Luis Aparicio. And that includes leverage.

Gossage is right around 40 WAR, which is about even with Rice.

I don't know what to make of that.

I think what it boils down to is the number of opportunities to influence a game. A good everyday player in going to have 600+ plate appearances, and depending on the position, maybe 300 - 800 fielding opportunities (actually, more at 1B). So, figure 900 - 1400 plays where they are in the action. A good closer if going to face maybe 80 - 100 batters and maybe field 10 - 15 balls. Even factoring in leverage, there's just a lot more chances for a regular everday player to do something that makes a difference.

At the same time, on a per-opportunity basis, I'm sure an excellent closer has a big impact.

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When I starting programming, we had to figure out how to make it work with 2 megabytes of RAM. Two Megabytes! Kids today, with all this RAM, they're lazy. They don't have to worry about optimization and speed and efficiency. It's all just bloated garbage code. We were real coders back then...

(You have these in any profession.)

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I think what it boils down to is the number of opportunities to influence a game. A good everyday player in going to have 600+ plate appearances, and depending on the position, maybe 300 - 800 fielding opportunities (actually, more at 1B). So, figure 900 - 1400 plays where they are in the action. A good closer if going to face maybe 80 - 100 batters and maybe field 10 - 15 balls. Even factoring in leverage, there's just a lot more chances for a regular everday player to do something that makes a difference.

At the same time, on a per-opportunity basis, I'm sure an excellent closer has a big impact.

I'll do a little basic math: Let's say you have a good starter with a 3.50 ERA in 225 innings. Compare that to a good closer with a 2.50 in 65 innings.

Starter is about 62 runs better than a replacement-level (6 run/game) pitcher.

Reliever is about 18 runs better than a replacement level (5 run/game) pitcher.

If you assume a leverage index of 2.0 (meaning each inning the reliever pitches is twice as valuable as that of an average starter) he's 36 runs over replacement.

Your good starter is worth almost 30 runs more than your good closer.

The break even point for a 3.50/225 starter is a reliever with a LI of 2.00 allowing 0.65 runs/nine. It's basically impossible for a 65-inning reliever to be more valuable than a good 225-inning starter.

Rivera is easily the best closer ever IMO. Not even close.

He's probably the most valuable reliever ever. But it's an open question as to whether he'd have earned that title in other era with other usage patterns.

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And the answer is?

ps: Who rounds out the Top 10?

Roger Clemens. Ok, he probably would have been if he'd been a reliever.

Real answer is Mariano Rivera.

Eyeballing Rally's WAR dB the top 10 pure-ish relievers (not counting Eck, Smoltz, Tom Gordon, and the like) in career value are:

1. Rivera

2. Wilhelm

3. Gossage

4. Trevor Hoffman

5. Lee Smith

6. Firpo Marberry

7. John Hiller

8. Billy Wagner

9. John Franco

10. Bruce Sutter

Maybe I should restate my previous statement. Maybe it's not quite so easy to figure out the top 10. Sutter, in leverage-adjusted WAR, has a career value about on par with Kevin Millwood, Jake Peavy's half of a career, Greg Luzinski, and Terry Steinbach. There's a good case that Mickey Tettleton had a more valuable career than either Dan Quisenberry or Rollie Fingers.

Small differences in approach could result in large changes, since the futher you go down the list the more players there are.

I think this emphasizes how hard it is to pile up value when you're pitching, at most, 50% of your teams games at 1 1/3 innings a pop.

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