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The Dizzy Dean of Relievers

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  • The Dizzy Dean of Relievers

    Dizzy Dean was elected to the HOF by what he did in six (6) seasons. Three (3) of those seasons were Cy Young-type seasons. Two (2) seasons were consistent with the very good seasons of a HOFer, and he posted a season where he was on his way to a great season when he hurt his arm trying to throw differently, due to a broken toe. The rest of his career was mediocre filler, hanging on to get 10 years, futile comebacks.

    We now routinely elect relievers to the HOF. I am not a big fan of the concept, but it's a fait accompli now, so I wonder: Is there a reliever out there who has 10 years of MLB time with 4 truly "lights out", Cy Young Award-type seasons and 2-3 pretty good seasons that flamed out due to injury, but limped to 10 years MLB service? The Dizzy Dean of relievers?

    I can think of a few candidates. Eric Gagne won a Cy Young Award, and was a super WHIP guy for 4 seasons, but he seems to come a little short. Dick Radatz was one of the most awesome relievers in history his first 3 seasons, but fell off in ERA in his 4th and lost effectiveness in 1966. (Radatz ended up with only 8 years of MLB service.) None of these guys really fill the bill of shoving a HOF relief career into a 6 season stretch; each comes a little short. Robb Nen kind of fits, but not really; he never reached the peak of Radatz and Gagne.

    Two questions:

    1. If there were such a candidate; a reliever with 4 Cy Young-type seasons and 2 pretty good seasons (or something close to that), would that be enough to make a RELIEVER a Dizzy Dean-type HOF candidate?

    2. Is there such a person in the history of baseball who fits this description to make a case for?
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  • #2
    For question one, for a reliever to have four Cy Young Award contender seasons would mean he was exceptionally dominant as a reliever. That being the case, he'd certainly have a case and some devotees. I'd probably support him. I'd think that with Bruce Sutter already in, he'd probably make it.

    Sutter is probably the closest I can think of. He had seasons of 6.5, 4.9 and 4.4 WAR Those three seasons placed him fourth twice and fifth once among pitchers. He had years of 3.2 and 2.5 WAR, which is pretty strong for a reliever. Other than that, though, he didn't have much to offer. He's in. I don't think I'd count Eckersley, because I feel his career as a starter helps his cause, and Radatz has nothing behind those three-four top notch years. I can't think of anyone not in who fits the profile you describe, and Sutter is clearly the closest of the ones who are in.
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    • #3
      What about Joakim Soria if he doesn't come back? He's the only guy I can think of with a really short but intense career.

      He doesn't meet your standards, but considering the differences in reliever and starter careers, he seems to fit the same niche, maybe not as well.
      Last edited by Jackaroo Dave; 01-06-2013, 08:00 PM.
      Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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      • #4
        Bryan Harvey comes to mind.

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        • #5
          John Hiller has 15 years of MLB experience, but prior to his heart attack after the 1970 season, he was a swing-man, starting occasionally. After 1971 he had some excellent seasons, including a monster 7.9 WAR in 1973. He stayed effective until 1978, then had two bad years before retiring.

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          • #6
            Do any of these guys fit the bill?

            Keith Foulke
            Jeff Montgomery
            Francisco Rodriguez
            Mike Marshall - probably played too long

            Really, Quisenberry's case is based only on 6 (5 plus 1981) seasons.
            Last edited by dgarza; 01-06-2013, 08:11 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
              Dizzy Dean was elected to the HOF by what he did in six (6) seasons. Three (3) of those seasons were Cy Young-type seasons. Two (2) seasons were consistent with the very good seasons of a HOFer, and he posted a season where he was on his way to a great season when he hurt his arm trying to throw differently, due to a broken toe. The rest of his career was mediocre filler, hanging on to get 10 years, futile comebacks.

              We now routinely elect relievers to the HOF. I am not a big fan of the concept, but it's a fait accompli now, so I wonder: Is there a reliever out there who has 10 years of MLB time with 4 truly "lights out", Cy Young Award-type seasons and 2-3 pretty good seasons that flamed out due to injury, but limped to 10 years MLB service? The Dizzy Dean of relievers?

              I can think of a few candidates. Eric Gagne won a Cy Young Award, and was a super WHIP guy for 4 seasons, but he seems to come a little short. Dick Radatz was one of the most awesome relievers in history his first 3 seasons, but fell off in ERA in his 4th and lost effectiveness in 1966. (Radatz ended up with only 8 years of MLB service.) None of these guys really fill the bill of shoving a HOF relief career into a 6 season stretch; each comes a little short. Robb Nen kind of fits, but not really; he never reached the peak of Radatz and Gagne.

              Two questions:

              1. If there were such a candidate; a reliever with 4 Cy Young-type seasons and 2 pretty good seasons (or something close to that), would that be enough to make a RELIEVER a Dizzy Dean-type HOF candidate?

              2. Is there such a person in the history of baseball who fits this description to make a case for?
              In fairness to Dean, he was much more than his statistics show. Dean truly transcended the game with the force of his personality. He was one of the games all time characters. This homespun country boy, with great talent, was just what the country needed, during such a desperate time as the great depression. With people leaving the rural areas in droves because of drought and hard times, who better to them hope than an Arkansas sharecropper's son? I know the this type of thinking is scoffed at during the sabermetric age, but I feel that who he was and when he played, are part of Dean's appeal.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
                In fairness to Dean, he was much more than his statistics show. Dean truly transcended the game with the force of his personality. He was one of the games all time characters. This homespun country boy, with great talent, was just what the country needed, during such a desperate time as the great depression. With people leaving the rural areas in droves because of drought and hard times, who better to them hope than an Arkansas sharecropper's son? I know the this type of thinking is scoffed at during the sabermetric age, but I feel that who he was and when he played, are part of Dean's appeal.
                So . . . Tug McGraw, then?
                Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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                • #9
                  ---It is virtually impossible for a reliever to provide as much value to his team as Dean did in his peak years. And even at that Dean probably doesn't make it if he had a less charismatic personality. So no, I can't imagine a reliever making the Hall with a career as short as Dean's. Well maybe I should say I can't imagine one I would support, since Sutter had a similar career shape at a muvh lower level.
                  Last edited by leecemark; 01-07-2013, 07:30 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Quisenberry was to closers what dean was to starters, to me. He was universally regarded as the best closer once Bruce Sutter had a couple of injuries. He didn't sustain it. That delivery was much talked about, probably the most recognizable closer trait of the time.
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                    • #11
                      Yeah, Quisenberry and Hiller are the names that came to mind, but relievers are kind of handcuffed by their workloads and can't provide that kind of value.

                      Well, except maybe John Hiller's 1973. Good god what a season.
                      The Hall of Stats: An alternate Hall of Fame populated by a mathematical formula.

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                      • #12
                        I don't think any reliever would fit Dizzy's mold. Not only was he one of the greatest starters of his era, but he also pitched 77 games in relief during that amazing 6 year run (finished 68 and notched 30 saves, leading the NL in that category in 1936). He was overused due to a lack of decent pitching on the Cardinals at that time. Also, it was common back then to play exhibition games during the regular season in other cities, adding more times out for Ol' Diz.

                        I agree that Hiller, Sutter, and Quiz (among some others) had some great seasons and careers, but can't find a way to compare them to what Dizzy did. Maybe I am looking at this wrong, and that wouldn't surprise me, but I just don't see it. Here is what Dean did from 1932-1937:

                        GP- 272
                        GS- 195
                        GF- 68
                        CG- 140
                        SHO- 23
                        SV- 30
                        "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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