Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Putting Out The Fire- version 3.0

After doing the 1994 sub-set and then doing what would be The Prowling Cat 2012 Firemen sub-set. I'm just not yet willing to let this series die off yet. So what is the next progression of this series you ask? Odds are you already knew when you saw this was version 3.0 that this was going to be the all-time group. As was with the 2012 set I'm not going to put these in my top ten order. Personally I feel that on a few of these guy's I'm putting myself out there just by doing the ten guys. Unlike the 2012 set, no cards were harmed in the making of this set. It's a shame I know but one card going down was enough.
1. Mariana Rivera- What can you say about the man who has now been in two of the three sets? Looking back, the only reason he didn't pull the trifecta is he wasn't even in the league for the original set. I'm willing to bet that right now the guy who dreamed up the original set is kicking himself for not including Rivera in that set.

2. Tug McGraw- Considered by some as one of the pioneers of the reliever position. In 1972 Tug set the Mets save record at 27. The record was his until 1984 when Jesse Orosco took over with 31 saves.

3. Lee Smith- Playing 18 seasons as mostly a reliever. Lee was the saves record holder until 2006 when a San Diego Padres reliever named Trevor Hoffman finally replaced Smith at the top spot. Due to his playing in what is referred to as a transitional period in the closer position. Lee hasn't gotten near enough votes for the Hall as voters are undecided on how to rate his career.

4. Billy Wagner- The one player in this set that doesn't stick out and make you stand up saying he needs to be in this group. Wagner is just one of those players that stepped in and got the job done without all the flash of most the greats. During his career Wagner was a 7 time all-star, recorded 422 saves and 1,196 strikeouts

5. Trevor Hoffman- Replacing Lee Smith as the all-time saves leader in 2006. The record was his until Mariano Rivera took over in 2011. Trevor was the first pitcher to reach both the 500 and 600 saves plateau. When finally retiring in 2010 Trevor had the highest career strikeout rate of all closers.

6. Hoyt Wilhelm- A knuckleballer who played for 10 teams throughout his career.  Hoyt is credited as being one of the pioneers of relief pitching. The use of Wilhelm as a reliever started teams towards finding pitchers of their own to come in and secure the lead. The first reliever elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

7. Bruce Sutter- Retiring with exactly 300 saves for his career. A six time all-star and the 1979 National League CY Young winner. Bruce is the only pitcher to lead the National League in saves five times during his career. Another of only five closers inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

8. Rollie Fingers- Regarded as another of the pioneers instrumental in modern day relieving. Rollie became only the second closer inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Remembered by everyone for the handlebar mustache, he was an intimidator. Accomplishing many feats never imagined for the reliever position. Rollie was a 7 time all-star, 1981 American League Cy Young winner, the 1974 World Series MVP. Last but not least he was the second of only four relievers to ever win Baseball biggest award the MVP for the American League.

9. Goose Gossage- Some argue that Gossage is one of the founding members of the way most closing has been done since. Gossage became the first reliever to have a set-up man who entered an inning or two early before the closer came in to finish the game. A 9 time all-star and a very intimidating presence on the mound. I'd be willing to bet that many a player who stepped up in one of Gossage's 310 career saves still have nightmares about those at bats. Another of the five Baseball Hall Of Famers and deservedly so.

10. Dennis Eckersley- A closer I remember for his days with the Cubs and then Athletics. Eckersley wasn't a great starter for the Cubs, it wasn't until being traded to the Athletics that Eckersley became a closer. In 1988 his first full season in the role. Eckersley immediately established himself as one of the top all time closers with 45 saves. The fourth and to date last closer to win the MVP award in 1992 when he saved 51 games. Along with the MVP he was a 6 time all-star, and another of the five Baseball Hall Of Fame closers.

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