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2016 HOF Debate: Lee Smith

Last year, we did our first ever debate on Notinhalloffame.com where we tackled the Hall of Fame merit of twenty-four men who are on the Hall of Fame ballot, in what was in our opinion the most loaded ballot in our lifetime.

Since it was so much fun last time, we thought we would do it again!

One thing that has not changed is the number.  We will again debate twenty-four men who are on the ballot.

What has changed are the ones debating.  Last year I had the pleasure of having DDT, the curator of DDT’s Pop Flies blog and D.K. of the Phillies Archivist blog.  This year, Spheniscus, who has participated in past Rock and Roll discussions, will be joining me.



Chairman: Lee Smith retired as the all-time leading leader in Saves, and here we are entering his fourteenth year on the ballot where he came off of a 30.2 percentage, 20 points lower than what he got in 2012. 

How did he plummet so bad?  I think a large part of that is because the stat of the Save is not what it was and when you look at his advanced stats, he isn’t what he should be in reference to other closers.  His 29.6 bWAR and 25.4 JAWS put him ahead of new ballot relievers, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner but with Smith what gets me is that unlike Hoffman, I never felt that Smith was a dominant closer, and what I mean is that did I ever feel he was one of the top two or three in the game.

I think what dissuades me the most about Smith is that for a reliever, how much he didn’t matter when the light shone brightest (his playoff numbers are terrible) and for all of the Saves he accumulated, how many do people remember?

Spheniscus, this is a guy who every year I talk myself more and more out of the Hall.

Spheniscus: I saw him play for two and a half seasons during my impressionable years when I followed every pitch of every game. Never once did I realize that he might be a Hall of Famer some day. All we talked about was how Smith wasn’t as good as the Steamer, Bob Stanley. And really, Bob Stanley wasn’t that good.

When we traded him to the Cardinals for former Twins “great” Tom Brunansky, there isn’t a Sox fan I know who didn’t think we got the better of the deal. Although, it helps that Brunansky made an incredible play in the right field corner to clinch a Sox playoff berth on the last game of the 1990 (the “Morgan Magic”) season. I mean we thought so highly of Smith that we were psyched when another former Twins “great” (and my former neighbor) Jeff Reardon was signed to replace him. And neither Reardon nor Brunansky are ever sniffing the Hall.

I already did his stats in the Trevor Hoffman section and I agree with you, he just doesn’t make it on paper. But at no point does he make it in reputation either. Literally the definition of a compiler. And a compiler in a category that no one cared about until Rivera retired. If someone passes Rivera in career saves people will notice. No one noticed when Hoffman passed Smith. And no one noticed with Rivera passed Smith either. I have 22 other people on this list ahead of him in my opinion. He’s not getting in. Ever.


Chairman: B. I. N. G. O.  

The Chairman cannot even remotely disagree with anything you said…however…

I can disagree with my own thoughts.

Had I a ballot twelve years ago I very well might have voted for Smith, erroneously believing that being the all-time leader in Saves should warrant him serious consideration for the Hall of Fame, and that would have been the wrong choice to make. 

There is no other stat in Baseball (and yes I will include wins and losses) that you can poke more holes in than the save.  You can stink and still get a save.  You can throw one pitch and get a save.  You have no opportunity to pick up a save if your team is never winning late in the game.  You called Lee Smith a compiler, and sure enough when I looked him up in Webster’s, there he was looking like he just came off of an advertisement for Soul Glo. 

There is no “lights out” feeling when Smith took the mound.  His playoff stats are not good, which was only 5.1 innings with an ERA near 9.  Some difference maker if he hardly got his team to the dance, and when he showed up it was the chicken dance. 

You called it when you as a Boston fan didn’t care when he left.  Did they at Wrigley either? 

He got over 50% in 2012 but last year he barely topped 30%.  He was lucky to get that. 

Spheniscus: And he won’t get that 15th year on the ballot bump either. If you had to choose between Hoffman and Smith for the 10th vote on your ballot, you would take Hoffman (again, you should take Billy Wagner over either but no one is going to do that). And believe me, he is the 10th vote on a lot of people’s ballots. My guess is that he ends up in the 20s and we unfortunately have this “debate” again next year. Then he mercifully drops off the ballot. This is one case where the new 10 year limit would have actually helped.

Chairman:  He will finish with his lowest total, and yes, he is now the third best reliever on the ballot.

I will go one step further in that he will never make a Veteran’s ballot in the future. 

My fictional vote is a no, and my prediction echoes yours:  24%.

Spheniscus: Looking at the list, he probably finishes somewhere around 12th overall. Last year, 12th got 12.9%. That seems like a big drop, so I’ll say 20%. 

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 is announced! Griffey and Piazza are in!

This is one of our favorite days of the year.

Today the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2016 and two former baseball greats will be immortalized in Cooperstown.

As expected, Ken Griffey Jr. breezed through on his first attempt.  Griffey Jr. set a new record for voting percentage, receiving 99.3% of the vote.

Griffey’s Hall of Fame co-entrant will be former Catcher, Mike Piazza who enters on his fourth try with 83.0%.

While Griffey and Piazza are excited today, there are certainly a lot of disappointed former baseball stars that were hoping for a certain Hall of Fame call.

Longtime Houston Astro, Jeff Bagwell, continues to be snubbed.  Like Piazza, Bagwell is on his fourth year of eligibility however like many on this ballot, he received his highest vote total, with 71.6%.

The Today's Era Committee announce the 10 Finalists to the Baseball HOF

It is a pretty big day in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the Today’s Game Era Committee has announced their 10 nominees for the Hall. This is one of four committees, which includes the Modern Baseball, Golden Days and Early Baseball. Specifically, the Today’s Game Era Committee comprises candidates whose contributions occurred from 1988 on. Along with the Modern Baseball Committee the Today’s Era Committee meets twice in a five year period. The last time they met was in 2016 where Commissioner Bud Selig and longtime Atlanta Braves Executive, John Scherholz.

The nominees include six former players, three managers and an owner.

Let’s take a look at the nominees!

Harold Baines: A six time All Star, Baines was an elite Designated Hitter who had 384 Home Runs and had 2,866 Hits over his career. Baines played 14 of 22 his seasons with the Chicago White Sox and he also spent time with Baltimore, Oakland, Texas and Cleveland. He is ranked #39 on Notinhalloffame.com.

Albert Belle: Belle was one of the most feared power hitters for a time and he would blast 381 Home Runs and he would lead the American League in that category in 1995. The five time All Star was a three time RBI leader and he was in the top three in AL voting three years in a row (1994-96). Belle played for Cleveland, the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore. He is ranked #56 on Notinhalloffame.com.

Joe Carter: Carter smacked 396 Home Runs but it was one that he hit in Game 6 to win the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays that he will always be remembered most for. He was a six time all star who also played for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants. He is not ranked on Notinhalloffame.com.

Will Clark: Clark was best known for his hitting prowess as a member of the San Francisco Giants where he would have four top five finishes in American League MVP voting. Clark retired with a .303 Batting Average with 284 Home Runs. He also played for Texas, Baltimore and St. Louis. He is ranked #58 on Notinhalloffame.com.

Orel Hershiser: The long time Los Angeles Dodger won the Cy Young in 1988 and was in the top four in voting three times. He was a three time All Star who won 204 Games and he also played for Cleveland, San Francisco and the New York Mets. He would be the MVP in the Dodgers 1988 World Series win and would later be the ALCS MVP for Cleveland in 1995. He is ranked #75 on Notinhalloffame.com.

Davey Johnson: Johnson helmed the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series and he was a two time Manager of the Year. He compiled a 1,372 and 1,071 record over stints with New York, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington.

Charlie Manuel: Manuel would take the Philadelphia Phillies to back-to-back World Series appearances winning the first one in 2008. Manuel won an even 1,000 Games against 826 losses and he also managed the Cleveland Indians over his career.

Lou Piniella: Piniella was a pretty good player in his own right who played 20 years as a player but he is nominated here for his work as a Manager. He was a three time Manager of the Year who took the Cincinnati Reds to a surprise World Series win 1990. He also managed the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Chicago Cubs and he had a 1,835 and 1,713 record.

Lee Smith: Smith at one time was the all-time leader in Saves (with 478) and he was a seven time All Star who played for Chicago Cubs, Boston, St. Louis, the New York Yankees, Baltimore, California, Cincinnati and Montreal. He is ranked #35 on Notinhalloffame.com.

George Steinbrenner: The iconic and late owner of the New York Yankees was certainly hands on and wanted to win and as an owner the Yankees would win seven times.

Voting will take place on December 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

Lee Smith and Harold Baines elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame will have two new members as the Today’s Game Committee have elected Harold Baines and Lee Smith.

Over a 22 year career, Baines collected 2,866 Hits with 384 Home Runs and 1,628 RBI. Primarily a Designated Hitter, Baines was with the Chicago White Sox for 14 of those years and he was a five time All Star.  He also played for Baltimore, Texas, Oakland and Cleveland.  The selection of Baines bodes well for future Designated Hitters. 

Lee Smith recorded 478 Saves, leading his respective lad in that four times and at the time of his retirement he was first all-time in Saves.  Unlike Baines who was only on the Hall of Fame ballot for six years, Smith lasted the entire fifteen years on his initial eligibility. 

Smith received all 16 votes and Baines got the minimum 12 votes needed for election. Lou Piniella just missed with 11 votes. 

The selection of Baines is turning heads in some circles as he never was never a strong MVP candidate.  He never had a bWAR over 4.2 and if there was a Hall of Very Good, Baines would be the perfect selection.  Jerry Reinsdorf, who was his owner when he was with the White Sox, is on that committee and he allegedly lobbied hard for this induction.  Baines also had other ties with Pat Gillick (former GM), Roberto Alomar (former teammate) and Tony LaRussa (former Manager).  This one will be debated for years to come.

We here at Notinhalloffame.com would like to congratulate Lee Smith and Harold Baines for this honor.

The St. Louis Cardinals HOF announce their 2020 Finalists

One of our favorite franchise Hall of Fames is that of the St. Louis Cardinals, which was only established in 2014, but has quickly earned a place as a must-see for baseball fans. For the Class of 2020, the fan vote is now available, where the top two vote getters of seven former Cardinals will become part of the organization’s Hall of Fame.  

Steve Carlton 1965-71.  Carlton would play the first seven seasons of his career with St. Louis, and he was a three-time All-Star while playing there.  Carlton helped St. Louis win the 1967 World Series, and he was a 20 Game winner in his final year as a Cardinal.  With St. Louis, he had a record of 77-62 with 951 Strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA.  Carlton would be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Keith Hernandez 1974-83.  Playing at First Base, Hernandez was one of the better defensive players at that position of all-time.  A Cardinal for the first decade of his career, Hernandez went to two All-Star Games and won six Gold Gloves as a Cardinal.  A key member of the 1982 World Series Championship team, Hernandez was the co-winner of the 1979 MVP.  With the Cards, the First Baseman had 1,217 Hits with a Batting Average of .299.

Tom Herr 1979-88.  Herr was an All-Star in 1985, and he was part of the 1982 World Series Championship Team.  He would have 1,021 Hits for the team with a .274 Batting Average.

Matt Morris 1997-05.  A St. Louis Cardinal for eight years, Morris was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1997.  He was sidelined in 1999 due to Tommy John Surgery, but he rebounded well, leading the National League in Wins (22), going to the All-Star Game, and finished third in Cy Young voting.  Morris was an All-Star again in 2002, and he would have a record of 101-62 overall with 986 Strikeouts in St. Louis.

Edgar Renteria 1999-04.  Renteria was a Cardinal for six years, and he was an All-Star for three of them.  The Columbian Shortstop had at least 10 Home Runs in each of his seasons, and had 71 overall for the Redbirds.  Renteria also stole 148 bases, and won two Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves.  He had 93 Hits with a .290 Batting Average in St. Louis.

Lee Smith 1990-93.  Three times an All-Star with the Cardinals, Smith led the National League in Saves in both 1991 and 1992, and was in the top four in Cy Young voting in both seasons.  He would have 160 Saves for the team.  Smith would enter the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.

John Tudor 1985-88 & 1990.  In Tudor’s first year in St. Louis he went 21-8 and led the league in Shutouts (10) and finished second in Cy Young voting. He would have a sparkling record of 62-26 for the Cardinals with a 2.52 ERA and a WHIP of 1.080.

The vote will be open until April 17, with the results televised on FOX Sports Midwest on May 8.

We know we will be voting, and we would like to congratulate the seven Finalists.

John Franco believes he is a Hall of Famer

According to John Franco, he should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In an interview this past weekend with WFAN in New York City, Franco was asked about his Cooperstown omission and had quite a bit to say on the topic:

“I’m still trying to figure it out myself, too.  It is what it is. Writers at the time … guess they felt the save statistic wasn’t that important.

The game has changed from early 90s to present where relief pitchers more important and part of that strategy of the game.  It is what it is. My numbers are just as good as anybody in the Hall of Fame. Mariano’s off the chart, obviously, and Trevor Hoffman, but [my numbers] are comparable to everyone else in there.

The Hall of Fame is supposed to be about numbers…relief pitchers in there have 400-600 saves. The other ones who have been in there a while have 300 saves, obviously that’s a different era. I have 424. In my mind, I think I deserve to be in there, but it’s up to the voters. 

Longevity, number of games I pitched in, games I finished – I think it was over 1,100 games I played in – my ERA has been really good…these are things that they consider and we’ll just have to see who is on that committee.  The thing I like about that is that there are players voting on that, too. That’s probably how the Hall of Fame should be…we’ll have to wait and see what happens but I’m hoping vote goes my way next time.”

Franco was on the ballot in 2011 and received 4.6% of the vote, thus failing to meet the 5% to remain on the ballot.  The first thing to look at is the year he was on the ballot, 2011.  It was a loaded year, and he finished 19thon the ballot, with 11 of them currently inducted.  Look at what he was up against:

Roberto Alomar, 2nd Year, 90.0%
Bert Blyleven, 14th Year, 79.7%
Barry Larkin, 2nd Year, 62.1%
Jack Morris, 12th Year, 53.5%
Lee Smith, 9th Year, 45.3%
Jeff Bagwell, 1st Year, 41.7%
Tim Raines, 4th Year, 37.5%
Edgar Martinez, 2nd Year, 32.9%
Alan Trammell, 10th Year, 24.3%
Larry Walker, 1st Year, 20.3%
Mark McGwire, 5th Year, 19.8%
Fred McGriff, 2nd Year, 17.9%
Dave Parker, 15th Year, 15.3%
Don Mattingly, 11th Year, 13.6%
Dale Murphy, 13th Year, 12.6%
Rafael Palmeiro, 1st Year, 11.0%
Juan Gonzalez, 1st Year, 5.2%
Harold Baines, 5th Year, 4.8%

The first reaction is that it is possible that some Hall of Fame voters left Franco off of their ballot, as he could not make their top ten.  If that is true, and there were just three voters who did not select him because the cap is ten, he would have remained on the ballot.  Subsequently, this was when the Hall still had a 15-year period, thus Blyleven, Morris, Parker, Mattingly and Murphy would not have been on the available pool to vote on had the current rules applied.  It should also be noted that other first ballot candidates were Kevin Brown (2.1%), Tino Martinez (1.0%) and John Olerud (0.7%).  This was one tough ballot!

Franco referenced his save total (424), which is currently fifth all-time, and ahead of Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter, who are in, but Franco played later, when Saves were not as prevalent.  As for Lee Smith, he had 478 Saves, and a bWAR of 28.9 against Franco’s 23.4.  The most accurate comparison is Wagner, who is currently in his 6thYear of Eligibility, has 422 Saves with a 27.7 bWAR, and had less competition on his ballot.  Wagner had 31.7% of the vote last year, and it is not inconceivable for him to get in.

Franco’s Cooperstown path is not closed.  He is eligible for the Today’s Game Committee, who will convene in 2022 for a 2023 induction.  That is still a tall order, but if Wagner looks to be Hall of Fame bound, Franco looks so much better, especially considering he has more association with a single team, and a better post-season record.

In 2021, we will be expanding our baseball to list to 300, and Franco will be among them.

If I Had a Vote in the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Election

As we gear up for the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting and announcements, the overriding question is: Have we returned to normal?

To put that into perspective, how's this for abnormal? In 2013, with a ballot overstuffed with Hall of Fame-caliber candidates (I counted 14), not one candidate was elected to the Hall. Adding to the debacle was the first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both of whom brought the bubbling issue of players suspected or confirmed of having used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to an apoplectic, moralistic boil.

50. Lee Smith

Lee Smith began his career with the Chicago Cubs, where he would play his first eight seasons of his 18-year career.  Smith would be a two-time All-Star for Chicago, and he was the league leader in Saves in 1983 and was the three-time runner-up in that department as a Cub.  He would have 180 of his 478 career Saves with Chicago.

Awards = HOF?: Part Fifty-Six: The Rolaids Reliever of the Year

We here at Notinhalloffame.com thought it would be fun to take a look at the major awards in North American team sports and see how it translates into Hall of Fame potential.

Needless to say, different awards in different sports yield hall of fame potential.  In basketball, the team sport with the least number of players on a roster, the dividend for greatness much higher.  In baseball, it is not as much as a great individual season does not have the same impact.

Last time, we looked at the William M. Jennings Trophy, which is given to the Goalie(s) who allowed the fewest Goals for their team.  That was our last hockey award, as we return to Baseball, specifically the Relief Pitchers, which will be a little complicated as you will see with the next paragraphs.

The Rolaids Reliever of the Year first came to existence in 1976, and was sponsored by the antiacid product, Rolaids.  At the time, the slogan for the product was “ROLAIDS spells Relief”, so it was a perfect pairing.  

This is the first time that we are looking at a defunct award, as when the new parent company of Rolaids opted to not continue the award, it ended in 2012.  It would be replaced in 2014 with the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year and Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year.  Coincidentally, there was a separate reliver award that began in 2005, The Delivery Man of the Year, which ran from 2005 to 2013.

Specifically, with the Rolaids Relief Award, it was awarded on a point system, tabulating Wins, Saves, Losses and Blown Saves.

Nevertheless, these were significant awards in our eyes, and we plan to look at them all!

So how many Rolaids Reliever of the Year winners have made the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Let’s find out!

The following are the past players who have won the Rolaids Reliever of the Year Award who are eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame and have been enshrined.

Rollie Fingers, San Diego Padres: 8-9, 35 Saves, 2.99 ERA, 113 SO, NL 1977

This was Fingers’ first season in San Diego and the closer had already gone to four All-Star Games and won three World Series Rings with the Oakland Athletics.  This year, Fingers topped the NL in Saves (35), Games Pitched (78), and Games Finished (69), and he was 14thin MVP voting.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Rich Gossage, New York Yankees: 10-11, 27 Saves, 2.01 ERA, 122 SO, AL 1978 

Prior to what was his first year with the Yankees, Gossage already was a three-time All-Star, two with the Chicago White Sox, and one with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  This year, “Goose” led the AL in Saves (27) and Games Finished (55), and was fifth in Cy Young Voting.  Gossage also helped New York win the World Series that year.  As All-Star in 1978, Gossage had five more All-Star appearances, three with the Yanks and two with San Diego.  He retired in 1994 following runs with San Francisco, New York (again), Texas, Oakland and Seattle and had 310 career Saves.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Rollie Fingers, San Diego Padres: 6-13, 37 Saves, 2.52 ERA, 72 SO, NL 1978 (2)

Fingers went to the All-Star Game for the fifth time, and his 37 Saves would not only lead the NL, but would be a personal high. He was eighth for the Cy Young and 14thfor the MVP this year.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Bruce Sutter, Chicago Cubs: 6-6, 37 Saves, 2.22 ERA, 110 SO, NL 1979 

Bruce Sutter was already a two-time All-Star at this point, and in what was his third consecutive All-Star year, Sutter began a four-year streak of leading the National League in Saves.  The flamethrower had a WHIP of 0.977, and he would win the Cy Young with a seventh place finish for the MVP.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Rollie Fingers, San Diego Padres: 11-9, 23 Saves, 2.80 ERA, 69 SO, NL 1980 (3)

This was Fingers’ last year with San Diego, and he went three for four for Rolaids Reliever of the Year Awards.  

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Rollie Fingers, Milwaukee Brewers: 6-3, 28 Saves, 1.04 ERA, 61 SO, AL 1981 (4)

Fingers returned to the American League, where in the strike-shortened 1981 Season he had his best year of his li6e.  He was first in the AL in Saves (28), and he had the best ERA (1.04) and WHIP (0.872) and he became the first Rolaids Reliever winner to win both the Cy Young and the MVP.  Fingers had three more seasons in the Majors with 341 Saves.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Bruce Sutter, St. Louis Cardinals: 3-5, 25 Saves, 2.62 ERA, 57 SO, NL 1981 (2) 

Sutter was now a St. Louis Cardinal, and his skill as the top closer in the National League remained intact.  Sutter was fifth for the Cy Young and eighth in MVP voting.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Bruce Sutter, St. Louis Cardinals: 9-8, 36 Saves, 2.90 ERA, 61 SO, NL 1982 (3) 

Sutter was not an All-Star this year, but he finished strong again finishing first in Saves (36).   He would be third for the Cy Young and fifth for MVP and in that post-season, Sutter helped the Redbirds win the World Series.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Bruce Sutter, St. Louis Cardinals: 5-7, 45 Saves, 1.54 ERA, 77 SO, NL 1984 (4) 

This was the last great year for Sutter, and coincidentally his final one with St. Louis.  Sutter led the National League in Saves (45) and Games Finishes (63), both of which were career-highs, and he was also third for the Cy Young and sixth in MVP voting.  He played three more years in the Majors, all with Atlanta.  Sutter retired with an even 300 Saves.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics: 4-2, 45 Saves, 2.35 ERA, 70 SO, AL 1988  

Dennis Eckersley converted from a starter to reliever the year before, but this was the year where he proved that this was what he was meant to be.  Eckersley led the AL in Saves (45) this year with a WHIP of 0.867.  The A’s made it to the World Series that year, and he was second for the Cy Young and fifth for the MVP.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Lee Smith, St. Louis Cardinals: 6-3, 47 Saves, 2.34 ERA, 67 SO, NL 1991  

Lee Smith was already a Major Leaguer since 1980, and he already had nine 25-plus Save campaigns.  The Cardinals were his third team, (following Chicago and Boston) and this season he set a personal record with 47 Saves (also league-leading) as well as finishing first in Games Finished (61).  He finished second for the Cy Young and eighth in MVP voting.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics: 7-1, 45 Saves, 1.91 ERA, 93 SO, AL 1992 (2) 

In the three years between Rolaids Reliever of the Year wins, Eckersley won a World Series, and had 124 Saves.  This year, Eckersley was first for the second time in Saves (51) and first time in Games Finished (65).  Eckersley won the Cy Young and MVP, and cemented his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Lee Smith, St. Louis Cardinals: 4-9, 43 Saves, 3.12 ERA, 60 SO, NL 1992 (2)  

Smith led the NL in Saves for the second straight season, and was fourth for the Cy Young this year.  He would also go to his fourth All-Star Game, and his fifth would come the following year.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Lee Smith, Baltimore Orioles: 1-4, 33 Saves, 3.29 ERA, 42 SO, AL 1994 (3)  

Smith was only with the Baltimore Orioles for one season, and it was a good one where he won not only the Rolaids Reliever of the Year, but was an All-Star for the sixth time.  Smith led the AL in Saves (33) and was fifth in Cy Young voting. Smith joined the California Angels the following year and had one more All-Star year with him.  He retired in 1997 after stops in Cincinnati and Montreal with 478 career Saves, which was then the all-time record.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres: 4-2, 53 Saves, 1.48 ERA, 86 SO, NL 1998  

Trevor Hoffman had been the Padres closer since 1994, and this was the year he let everyone in the baseball world know he was elite.  Hoffman was an All-Star for the first time and his league-leading 53 Saves, 1.48 ERA, and 0.849 WHIP landed him second in Cy Young voting and seventh in MVP voting.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: 4-3, 45 Saves, 1.83 ERA, 52 SO, AL 1999  

Mariano Rivera was already established as an elite reliever in the American League, and had already won two World Series Championships. This year, Rivera won his first of five Rolaids Reliever of the Year Awards, and he led the AL in Saves (45) with a 1.83 ERA and a 0.884 WHIP.  Rivera was third in Cy Young voting, and he helped the Yankees win the World Series, winning the World Series MVP.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: 4-6, 50 Saves, 2.34 ERA, 83 SO, AL 2001 (2)  

Rivera was an All-Star for the fourth time this year, and the season before he won his fourth World Series.  Rivera again had a WHIP under 1.000 (0.905), and was eleventh in MVP voting.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves: 3-2, 55 Saves, 3.25 ERA, 85 SO, NL 2002  

Prior to taking on the role of the Braves’ closer, Smoltz was a top starter for years, going to four All-Star Games, winning a World Series Ring and earning a Cy Young.  Smoltz excelled in this role too, with his 55 Saves leading the NL and finishing third in Cy Young voting.  He would later go back to being a starter, and would retire in 2009, with his final year being split between Boston and St. Louis.  Smoltz had a lifetime record of 213-155 with 3,084 Strikeouts and 154 Saves.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: 5-2, 40 Saves, 1.66 ERA, 63 SO, AL 2003 (3)  

Another spectacular season happened for Rivera, whose 1.63 was the second lowest of his career.  In the playoffs, Rivera won the ALCS MVP, but the Yankees lost to the Marlins in the World Series.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: 7-4, 43 Saves, 1.38 ERA, 80 SO, AL 2005 (4)  

Rivera was electric again this year, posting his all-time best ERA (1.38) with a phenom20al WHIP of 0.868.  Rivera was second for the Cy Young to Bartolo Colon of Cleveland and was ninth in MVP voting.  Rivera also won the Delivery Man of the Year Award, which was in its first year of existence.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres: 0-2, 46 Saves, 2.14 ERA, 50 SO, NL 2006 (2)  

Hoffman went to his second, third and fourth All-Star Game in between his Rolaids Reliver wins, and was an All-Star again this year.  Hoffman led the NL in Saves (46) and had a sub 1.000 WHIP.  He was again second in Cy Young voting.  Hoffman went to two more All-Stars, the last one as a Milwaukee Brewer. He retired in 2010 with 601 career Saves.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: 3-3, 44 Saves, 1.76 ERA, 72 SO, AL 2009 (5) Co-Winner

This was Rivera’s fifth and final Rolaids Reliever of the Year Award, and he would also win his third Delivery Man of the Year (he won his second in 2006).  Rivera would later take the Yankees to another World Series win, his fifth.  He played until 2013, was a thirteen-time All-Star, and retired with 652 Saves, the most all-time.  Rivera entered the Baseball Hall of Fame with a perfect ballot, the first man to do so.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

 

The following are the players who have won the Rolaids Relief Award who are eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame and have not been selected:

Bill Campbell, Minnesota Twins: 17-5, 20 Saves, 3.01 ERA, 115 SO, AL 1976

This was Campbell’s final season in Minnesota, and he would not only win the inaugural American League Rolaids Relief Award, he was the league-leader in Games Pitched (78) and Gamed Finished (68). Campbell finished seventh for the Cy Young and eighth for the MVP.

Eligible since 1993.  Campbell was on the ballot for one year and received 0.2% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com 

Rawly Eastwick, Cincinnati Reds: 11-5, 26 Saves, 2.09 ERA, 70 SO, AL 1976

The rookie and sophomore seasons of Rawly Eastwick are forgotten gems in the lore of the Cincinnati Reds.  As a rookie, he led the NL in Saves (22) and was third in Rookie of the Year voting while helping the Reds win the World Series. This season, he was even better with a career-high 26 Saves and was fifth in Cy Young voting and thirteenth for the MVP, and he was again a part of the Reds World Series win.  His career regressed after that, and he bounced around to St. Louis, New York (AL), Philadelphia, Kansas City and Chicago (NL) with his Major League career coming to an end in 1981.  He had 68 career Saves, with 48 coming in 1975 and 1976.

Eastwick did not play the mandatory ten years to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com 

Bill Campbell, Boston Red Sox: 13-9, 31 Saves, 2.96 ERA, 114 SO, AL 1977 (2)

Campbell signed with Boston this year and arguably, this was his last real good season in the Majors, though he played until 1987 with stops in Chicago (NL), Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit and Montreal. This year, Campbell led the AL in Saves (32) and Games Finished (60), and was fifth for the Cy Young and tenth for the MVP.  Campbell had 126 career Saves.

Eligible since 1993.  Campbell was on the ballot for one year and received 0.2% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jim Kern, Texas Rangers: 13-5, 29 Saves, 1.57 ERA, 136 SO, AL 1979 

Jim Kern went to three straight All-Star Games, with this year being his third.  Also in his first season in Texas (he was with Cleveland before), Kern had his best year by far in the Majors.  In addition to his personal best 29 Saves, he also set career-highs in Games Played (71), Games Finished (57), and was fourth in Cy Young voting and eleventh in MVP voting. Kern never had a year close to this again, and he bounced around to Cincinnati, Chicago (AL), Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Cleveland before his career ended in 1986.  He had 88 career Saves.

Eligible since 1992.  Despite being Hall of Fame eligible in 1992, he was not on the ballot.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Dan Quisenberry, Kansas City Royals: 12-7, 33 Saves, 3.09 ERA, 37 SO, AL 1980 

This was Quisenberry’s breakout year where the submarine-style Pitcher led the AL in Saves (33), Gamed Finished (68) and Games Pitched (75).  Quisenberry was fifth in Cy Young and eighth in MVP voting, and he helped Kansas City reach the World Series.

Eligible since 1996.  Quisenberry was on the ballot for one year and received 3.8% of the vote in 1996.  Ranked #94 on Notinhalloffame.com

Dan Quisenberry, Kansas City Royals: 9-7, 35 Saves, 2.57 ERA, 46 SO, AL 1982 (2) 

“Quiz” was finally an All-Star, and he did what he did in 1980, which was lead the AL in Saves (35) and Games Finished (68). He was third for the Cy Young and ninth for the MVP, and this began a four-year streak of top three Cy Young finishes.

Eligible since 1996.  Quisenberry was on the ballot for one year and received 3.8% of the vote in 1996.  Ranked #94 on Notinhalloffame.com

Dan Quisenberry, Kansas City Royals: 5-3, 45 Saves, 1.94 ERA, 46 SO, AL 1983 (3) 

Quisenberry’s 45 Saves not only led the American League but it would be a personal best for the closer.  He was also first in the AL in Games Pitched (69) and Games Finished (62), and the “Quiz” was the runner-up for the 7y Young with a sixth-place finish in MVP voting.

Eligible since 1996.  Quisenberry was on the ballot for one year and received 3.8% of the vote in 1996.  Ranked #94 on Notinhalloffame.com

Al Holland, Philadelphia Phillies: 8-4, 25 Saves, 2.26 ERA, 100 SO, NL 1983  

After playing in San Francisco for four years, he joined Philadelphia in 1983, and became their closer.  Holland help take the Phillies to the World Series that year but they lost to Baltimore Orioles in five.  The southpaw was an All-Star the following year, and exceeded his Saves mark to 2, but he was used in middle relief afterward, and later played for Pittsburgh, California and the New York Yankees.  He only had 78 career Saves.

Eligible since 1993.  Despite being Hall of Fame eligible in 1993, he was not on the ballot.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Dan Quisenberry, Kansas City Royals: 6-3, 44 Saves, 2.64 ERA, 41 SO, AL 1984 (4)

Quisenberry was an All-Star for the third and last time, but he was on year three of four straight Save-leading seasons.  He was again the second-place finisher for the Cy Young, and he was third for the MVP, his highest ever finish.

Eligible since 1996.  Quisenberry was on the ballot for one year and received 3.8% of the vote in 1996.  Ranked #94 on Notinhalloffame.com

Dan Quisenberry, Kansas City Royals: 8-9, 37 Saves, 2.37 ERA, 54 SO, AL 1985 (5) 

Quisenberry secured his fifth and final Rolaids Relief Award, and it is also marked the last of five times he was the American League leader in Saves (37), the third and final time in Games Pitched (84) and fourth and final time in Games Finished (37).  He played with the Royals until 1988, winning a World Series Ring in 1985, and he later joined St. Louis and San Francisco.  He retired with 244 career Saves.

Eligible since 1996.  Quisenberry was on the ballot for one year and received 3.8% of the vote in 1996.  Ranked #94 on Notinhalloffame.com

Jeff Reardon, Montreal Expos: 2-8, 41 Saves, 3.18 ERA, 67 SO, NL 1985  

Jeff Reardon had at least 20 Saves in the three years before, but he improved that total to 41 this year, which was the only time he ever finished first in his respective league.  He was seventh in Cy Young voting and two years later he helped the Minnesota Twins win the 1987 World Series.  A four-time All-Star, Reardon would later play for Boston, Atlanta, Cincinnati and New York (AL), and he amassed 367 Saves.

Eligible since 2000.  Reardon was on the ballot for one year in 2000 and received 4.8% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Dave Righetti, New York Yankees: 8-8, 46 Saves, 2.45 ERA, 83 SO, AL 1986  

Dave Righetti began his career as a starter where he was the 1981 American League Rookie of the Year.  Three years later he was moved to the bullpen and after two good years in that role, he was named to the All-Star team with league leading numbers in Saves (46) and Games Finished (68).  Righetti was fourth for the Cy Young and tenth for the MVP.

Eligible since 2001.  Righetti was on the ballot for one year in 2001 and received 0.4% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Todd Worrell, St. Louis Cardinals: 9-10, 36 Saves, 2.08 ERA, 73 SO, NL 1986  

1986 was the best year of Todd Worrell’s career, which coincidentally was also his rookie year.  Not only would he win the Rolaids Reliever of the Year, he was also the Rookie of the Year.  Worrell led the NL in Saves (36), Games Finished (60), and he was fifth for the Cy Young.  Worrell would later be an All-Star in 1988, and twice for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1995-96).  He retired in 1997 with 256 Saves.

Eligible since 2003.  Worrell was on the ballot for one year in 2003 and received 0.0% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Dave Righetti, New York Yankees: 8-6, 31 Saves, 3.41 ERA, 77 SO, AL 1987 (2) 

Righetti was an All-Star again, which would be the second and last time.  He would have at least 24 Saves over the next four years, and he also played for San Francisco, Oakland, Toronto and the Chicago White Sox.  He accrued 252 total Saves.

Eligible since 2001.  Worrell was on the ballot for one year in 2001 and received 0.4% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Steve Bedrosian, Philadelphia Phillies: 5-3, 40 Saves, 2.83 ERA, 74 SO, NL 1987 

Bedrosian was a Relief Pitcher for most of his career, and his best year by far at it was 1987, where his 40 Saves were league-leading. An All-Star this year, Bedrosian won the Cy Young Award, which was coincidentally the only year he would get a vote.  Bedrosian would later win a World Series Ring with the Minnesota Twins in 1991, and he had 184 career Saves.

Eligible since 2001.  Worrell was on the ballot for one year in 2001 and received 0.2% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

John Franco, Cincinnati Reds: 6-6, 39 Saves, 1.57 ERA, 46 SO, NL 1988 

Franco was an All-Star in the two years before, and he led the NL in Games Finished (60) with 32 Saves the year before.  This season, his 39 Saves topped the National League and his 61 Games Finished were also atop the leaderboard.  Franco was an All-Star the next year, and joined the Mets in 1990.

Eligible since 2011.  Franco was on the ballot for one year in 2011 and received 4.6% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jeff Russell, Texas Rangers: 6-4, 38 Saves, 1.98 ERA, 77 SO, NL 1989 

Over Jeff Russell’s 14-year career, he was predominantly used in relief, but this would be the first season he became a closer. Russell led the AL in Saves (38) and Games Finished (66), and would me ninth for the Cy Young.  Russell later played for Oakland, Boston and Cleveland before returning to Texas and closing his career in 1996 with 186 career Saves.

Eligible since 2002.  Franco was on the ballot for one year in 2002 but did not receive any votes.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Mark Davis, San Diego Padres: 4-3, 44 Saves, 1.85 ERA, 92 SO, NL 1989 

Mark Davis made his Major League debut in 1980 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he would later play for San Francisco before joining the Giants in 1987.  Davis was anointed the team’s closer in 1988 and was an All-Star, but he had the season of his life in 1989 where he was again an All-Star and led the NL in Saves (44) and Games Finished (65).  He would win the Cy Young while also finishing sixth for the MVP.  Davis signed with Kansas City afterward but he never had a season like 1989 again.  He went on to play for Atlanta, Philadelphia with a return to San Diego.  Davis retired for good after a brief comeback in 1997 with the Brewers.

Eligible since 2003.  Davis was on the ballot for one year in 2003 and received 0.2% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Bobby Thigpen, Chicago White Sox: 4-6, 57 Saves, 1.83 ERA, 70 SO, NL 1989 

Bobby Thigpen had already been the primary closer for the ChiSox for the past two years, but this year he set a then Major League record in Saves with 57, while also leading the American League in Games Pitched (77) and Games Finished (73).  He only had two more seasons where he had at least 20 Saves, but his skills were eroding quickly and he was out of Baseball by 1994.

Thigpen did not play the minimum ten years to qualify for the Hall of Fame.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

John Franco, New York Mets: 5-3, 33 Saves, 2.53 ERA, 56 SO, NL 1990 (2)

This was Franco’s first of 14 years as a Met, and it was also his last All-Star year.  Franco led the NL in Saves for the second time, and later on in 1994, he would again with 30 Saves, but he was not a Rolaids winner that year.  He finished his career with a season in Houston in 2005, and retired with 424 Saves.

Eligible since 2011.  Franco was on the ballot for one year in 2011 and received 4.6% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Bryan Harvey, California Angels: 2-4, 46 Saves, 1.60 ERA, 101 SO, AL 1991

This Harvey’s best season in the Majors, where his 46 Saves led the AL, as did his 63 Games Finished; both of which were career-highs.  Harvey finished fifth in Cy Young voting, and was an All-Star.  While this was his only Rolaids win, two years ago he had another All-Star season, albeit with the Florida Marlins in a World Series winning year. Harvey had 177 career Saves.

Harvey did not play the minimum ten years to qualify for the Hall.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jeff Montgomery, Kansas City Royals: 7-5, 45 Saves, 2.27 ERA, 66 SO, AL 1993

Montgomery went to three All-Star Games over his career, which was all but 14 Games as a Kansas City Royal.  A late-inning reliever for most of career, Montgomery had four 30-plus Save years, with the 45 this year being league-leading and his career-high.  Montgomery retired in 1999 with 304 Saves.

Eligible Since 2005.  Montgomery was on the ballot for one year in 2005 and received 0.4% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Randy Myers, Chicago Cubs: 2-4, 53 Saves, 3.11 ERA, 86 SO, NL 1993

Before he was a Chicago Cub, Randy Myers was a New York Met, a Cincinnati Red, where the closer was an All-Star and World Series Champion and a San Diego Padre.  With the Cubs, Myers went to two All-Star Games and in 1993, won the Saves Title (53) while also finishing eighth for the Cy Young.  He would again lead the NL in Saves (38) in 1995 and the American League with 45 in 1997 as a Baltimore Oriole.  Myers finished his career in 1998, splitting his time with Toronto and San Diego and would amass 347 total Saves.

Eligible Since 2004.  Myers was on the ballot for one year in 2005 and received 0.2% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Rod Beck, San Francisco Giants: 2-4, 28 Saves, 2.77 ERA, 39 SO, NL 1994

Rod Beck was in his fourth season of Major League service and it was his second straight year as an All-Star.  In this strike-shortened year, Beck led the NL in Games Finished (47) for the second consecutive year, and he would later do so again two more times.  Beck would overall go three All-Star Games, and later play for the Chicago Cuba, Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres.  Beck retired with 286 Saves.

Eligible Since 2008.  Beck was on the ballot for one year in 2005 and received 0.4% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jose Mesa, Cleveland Indians: 3-0, 46 Saves, 1.13 ERA, 58 SO, AL 1995

From the Dominican Republic, Jose Mesa had a 19-year career in the Majors, where he was mostly used coming out of the bullpen. This season, Mesa led the AL in Saves (46) and Games Finished (57), and he was an All-Star for the first time. Mesa was second this year for the Cy Young and fourth for the MVP and he secured 321 career Saves in 1,022 Games Pitched.

Eligible Since 2013.  Mesa was on the ballot for one year in 2013 but did not receive any votes. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Tom Henke, St. Louis Cardinals: 1-1, 36 Saves, 1.82 ERA, 48 SO, NL 1995

Tom Henke won a World Series Rings with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he led the AL in Saves in 1987.  After leaving the Jays for Texas in 1993, he played two years before going to St. Louis in the NL for his lone year there, where he had his best ERA (1.82), and the second of two All-Star campaigns.  Henke retired on top, as he elected to retire at the end of the season.  

Eligible Since 2001.  Henke was on the ballot for one year in 2001 and received 1.2% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

John Wetteland, New York Yankees: 2-3, 43 Saves, 2.83 ERA, 69 SO, AL 1996

John Wetteland had at least 25 or more Saves in the four years before this season, three with Montreal and one with the Yankees. In this baseball campaign, Wetteland led the American League in Saves (43) in what was his first of three All-Star years.  Wetteland helped the Yankees win the World Series that year while winning the World Series MVP, and after he was a Texas Ranger for his last four years.  He had 330 career Saves.

Eligible Since 2006.  Wetteland was on the ballot for one year in 2006 and received 0.8% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jeff Brantley, Cincinnati Reds: 1-2, 44 Saves, 2.41 ERA, 76 SO, NL 1996

Jeff Brantley was an All-Star in 1990 as a San Francisco Giant, but it was in Cincinnati where the reliever had his best year.  Brantley led the NL in Saves (44), which was the only time that would happen.  He would late play for St. Louis, Philadelphia and Texas and managed 172 career Saves.

Eligible Since 2007.  Brantley was eligible for the Hall in 2007 but was not on the ballot.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Randy Myers, Baltimore Orioles: 2-3, 45 Saves, 1.51 ERA, 56 SO, AL 1997 (2)

Myers would again lead the league (American) with 45 in 1997 as a Baltimore Oriole.  Myers finished his career in 1998, splitting his time with Toronto and San Diego and would amass 347 total Saves.

Eligible Since 2004.  Myers was on the ballot for one year in 2005 and received 0.2% of the vote. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jeff Shaw, Cincinnati Reds: 4-2, 42 Saves, 2.38 ERA, 74 SO, NL 1997 

For the first time, we have a back-to-back winner from a team who was not the same player.  Jeff Brantley won it in 1996, as opposed to Jeff Shaw this year, who was the National League Leader in Saves with 42.  He had more in 48 the year after, but it was a season split between the Reds and the Dodgers.  Shaw had 203 career Saves.

Eligible Since 2007.  Shaw was eligible since 2007 but was not on the ballot.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Tom Gordon, Boston Red Sox: 7-4, 46 Saves, 2.72 ERA, 78 SO, AL 1998 

After eight years in Kansas City, Tom Gordon became the Red Sox’ primary closer in his third year in Boston.  This was arguably Gordon’s best season in Baseball, and it would be the first of three All-Star Game appearances for “Flash”, with the others coming as a Yankee and as a Phillie.  Gordon led the AL in Saves (46) and Games Finished (69), and had a sparkling WHIP of 1.008.  Gordon played 21 seasons and retired with a record of 138-126 with 158 Saves and 1,928 Strikeouts.

Eligible Since 2015.  Gordon was on the ballot for one year in 2015 and received 0.4% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Billy Wagner, Houston Astros: 4-1, 39 Saves, 1.57 ERA, 124 SO, NL 1998 

Wagner was a Strikeout machine this year for Houston with a 14.9 SO/9 with a 0.777 WHIP.  This year saw Wagner go to his first of seven All-Star Games, and while he never led his league in Saves, he compiled 422 over his career.  He also played for Philadelphia, New York (NL), Boston and Atlanta.

Eligible Since 2016.  Wagner has been on the ballot for five years finishing as high as 31.7% in 2020.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Antonio Alfonseca, Florida Marlins: 5-6, 45 Saves, 4.24 ERA, 47 SO, NL 2000

Alfonseca led the National League in Saves (45), but his ERA was 4.24, his WHIP was over 1.500, and his bWAR was 0.5.  He is arguably the worst recipient of this award. He would later play for Chicago (NL), Atlanta, Texas and Philadelphia and had 126 career Saves.

Eligible Since 2012.  Although Alfonseca was Hall of Fame eligible in 2012 he was not on the ballot. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Todd Jones, Detroit Tigers: 2-4, 42 Saves, 3.52 ERA, 67 SO, AL 2000

Todd Jones was a journeyman reliever over his career, often in a closing capacity.  This was his best year, going to his lone All-Star Game and leading the AL in Saves with 42.  Jones would accumulate 319 Saves over 16 years.

Eligible Since 2014.  Jones was on the ballot for one year in 2014 but he did not receive any votes. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Armando Benitez, New York Mets: 6-4, 43 Saves, 3.77 ERA, 93 SO, NL 2001

Armando Benitez had his second consecutive 40 Save year with the Mets, and would have another one in 2004 with 47 as a Marlin that led the NL.  Benitez had 289 Saves over a career that also saw time spent with Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco and Toronto.

Eligible Since 2014.  Benitez was on the ballot for one year in 2014 and received 0.2% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Billy Koch, Oakland Athletics: 11-4, 44 Saves, 3.27 ERA, 93 SO, AL 2002

Billy Koch had at least 31 Saves over his first three years in the Majors which was in Toronto.  The Jays traded Koch to Oakland, and he had the best year of his career, securing 44 Saves and leading the AL in Games Pitched (84) and Games Finished (79).  Despite that, he was dealt to the White Sox, but he floundered after that and was out of the Majors by 2004.

Koch did not play the minimum ten years to qualify for the Hall of Fame.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Keith Foulke, Oakland Athletics: 9-1, 43 Saves, 2.08 ERA, 88 SO, AL 2003

Foulke arrived in Oakland when he was traded for Billy Koch, the Rolaids Reliever of the Year winner the year before.  Foulke won it this year with a league-leading 43 Saves and 67 Games Finished, with a seventh-place finish in Cy Young voting. This was his last year in Oakland, as he signed with Boston and won a World Series.  He retired in 2008 with 191 career Saves.

Eligible since 2014.  Although Foulke was eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014 he was not on the ballot. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Eric Gagne, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2-3, 55 Saves, 1.20 ERA, 137 SO, NL 2003

The numbers for Gagne were staggering, as he built upon his 52 Save season in 2002 with a 55 Save, 67 Games Finished performance that led both categories.  Gagne’s anemic 1.20 ERA was matched by an even more impressive 0.692 WHIP and 15.0 SO/9. Gagne would also win the Cy Young this season and 

Eligible since 2014.  Gagne was on the ballot for one year in 2014 and received 0.4% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Eric Gagne, Los Angeles Dodgers: 7-3, 45 Saves, 2.19 ERA, 114 SO, NL 2004 (2)

Gagne went back-to-back with Rolaids wins, and while his numbers were still good, they were not at the 2003 level.  Gagne was seventh in Cy Young voting and he had his third consecutive All-Star year.  This was it for Gagne, who had arm trouble and was never the same again. Gagne bounced to Texas, Boston and Milwaukee and retired in 2008 with 187 Saves.

Eligible since 2014.  Gagne was on the ballot for one year in 2014 and received 0.4% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Chad Cordero, Washington Nationals: 2-4, 47 Saves, 1.82 ERA, 61 SO, NL 2005

Cordero was only in the Majors for seven years (six with Washington) and this was easily his best year.  Cordero’s 47 Saves led the NL, and this was the only year he had an ERA under two and WHIP under one.  He had 128 career Saves.

Cordero did not play the minimum ten seasons required to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners: 6-1, 40 Saves, 1.38 ERA, 82 SO, NL 2007

Putz was the Mariners closer for three years and he led the American League in Games Finished (65) and the All-Star had a spectacular 0.698 WHIP.  Putz later played for New York (NL), Chicago (AL) and Arizona and would have 189 career Saves.

Eligible since 2020.  Putz was on the ballot for one year and had 0.3% of the vote.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Jose Valverde, Arizona Diamondbacks: 1-4, 47 Saves, 2.56 ERA, 78 SO, NL 2007

Valverde had a breakout year here he led the NL in Saves (47) went to the All-Star Game, and was sixth for Cy Young voting. Despite that, Valverde was traded to Houston and led the NL in Saves (44) again. 

Eligible since 2020.  Valverde was on the ballot for one year in 2020 but did not receive any votes. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies: 2-0, 41 Saves, 1.95 ERA, 92 SO, NL 2008

After six years with the Houston Astros, Brad Lidge was traded to the Houston Astros where in his first year, he was an All-Star for the second time, won the Rolaids Relief Award, and helped the Phillies win the World Series.  He would also finish fourth in Cy Young voting.  Lidge played five more years, but it was up and down, and he never came close to his 2008 season again.  He retired with 225 Saves. 

Eligible since 2018.  Lidge was on the ballot for one year on 2018 but did not receive any votes.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com.

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres: 6-4, 42 Saves, 2.71 ERA, 79 SO, NL 2009

This was Bell’s sixth year in the Majors and third in San Diego, but it would be his first as a closer.  Bell rose to the occasion, leading the National League in Saves (42) and he was an All-Star for the first time. 

Eligible since 2020.  Bell was on the ballot for one year on 2020 but did not receive any votes.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com.

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres: 6-1, 47 Saves, 1.93 ERA, 86 SO, NL 2010 (2)

Bell went back-to-back for the Rolaids Award, exceeding his 42 Save mark to 47.  This would be the only year where he dropped his ERA to below two, and he was an All-Star again.  Bell had 43 Saves in 2011, and was an All-Star for the third straight year. His All-Star runs were over, as was his stay in San Diego.  Bell played three more seasons, one with Miami, Arizona and Tampa Bay, and accrued 168 Saves over his career. 

Eligible since 2020.  Bell was on the ballot for one year on 2020 but did not receive any votes.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com.

Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers: 2-4, 49 Saves, 2.56 ERA, 78 SO, AL 2011 (2)

Joining the Detroit Tigers in 2010, Valverde led the AL in Saves (49), Games Finished (70) and Games Pitched (75) this season. He would also win the Delivery Man of the Year Award, and was fifth in Cy Young voting.  Valverde played until 2014, with a final year as a Met, and he accrued 288 Saves.

Eligible since 2020.  Valverde was on the ballot for one year but did not receive any votes.  Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com. 

 

Let’s update our tally, shall we?       

Award in Question

Percentage of recipients who have entered the HOF

Percentage of recipients by year who have entered the HOF.

NBA MVP

100%

100%

NHL Art Ross

100%

100%

NHL Hart Trophy

93.6%

96.3%

NBA Finals MVP

91.3%

94.9%

NHL Norris

90.5%

96.4%

NHL Ted Lindsay Award

90.0%

 

NBA All-Star Game MVP

89.5%

91.7%

NHL Conn Smythe

74.2%

85.4%

NFL Bert Bell Award

73.7%

71.4%

NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year

73.1%

79.4%

NFL AP MVP

68.3%

74.0%

NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year

66.7%

66.7%

NHL Lady Byng

63.8%

76.0%

NFL Defensive Player of the Year

60.8%

71.1%

NFL Super Bowl MVP

60.6%

64.9%

NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award

60.0%

60.0%

NBA Defensive Player of the Year

58.3%

56.5%

NHL Vezina

57.1%

66.3%

NBA Rookie of the Year

56.5%

56.5%

MLB MVP

55.0%

60.2%

NFL Pro Bowl MVP

52.3%

54.8%

MLB Lou Gehrig Award

51.9%

51.9%

MLB Roberto Clemente Award

47.4%

47.4%

NHL Calder Trophy

46.5%

46.5%

NBA J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

46.0%

46.0%

MLB/NL/AL Cy Young Award

44.4%

55.4%

MLB Babe Ruth Award

37.0%

39.3%

NHL King Clancy Award

36.8%

36.8%

NHL Frank J. Selke Trophy

33.3%

36.7%

MLB World Series MVP

33.3%

36.8%

MLB Hutch Award

33.1%

33.1%

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

28.6%

28.6%

NHL Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

27.9%

27.9%

MLB Edgar Martinez Award

26.7%

17.2%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Designated Hitter)

25.0%

30.8%

MLB Comeback Player of the Year

25.0%

25.0%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Shortstop)

23.5%

52.6%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove

21.7%

36.8%

NHL William M. Jennings Trophy

20.7%

40.4%

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

20.6%

20.6%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Catcher)

20.0%

22.5%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Second Base)

18.8%

39.8%

MLB Rolaids Reliever of the Year

18.6%

33.3%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Shortstop)

18.2%

35.1%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Pitcher)

18.2%

20.1%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Second Base)

16.7%

32.7%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Outfield)

16.7%

30.1%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Outfield)

15.7%

25.2%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Third Base)

14.3%

14.3%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Third Base)

13.6%

14.3%

MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (First Base)

13.6%

13.3%

MLB (NL/AL) Rookie of the Year

13.3%

13.3%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Catcher)

10.3%

15.2%

NBA Most Improved Player of the Year

5.3%

3.2%

MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (First Base)

3.8%

3.2%

NFL AP Comeback Player of the Year

0.0%

0.0%

So, who is up next?

The following are the players who have won the Rolaids Reliever of the Year Award in MLB who have retired but have not met the mandatory years out of the game to qualify for the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels: 2-3, 47 Saves, 1.73 ERA, 98 SO, NL 2006

Already a World Series Champion as a rookie, Rodriguez led the AL for the second straight year.  He was fourth in Cy Young voting and posted a 12.1 SO/9

Eligible in 2023.

Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels: 2-3, 62 Saves, 2.24 ERA, 77 SO, NL 2008 (2)

Rodriguez became the first player to record over 60 Saves (62), and he also led the AL in Games Pitched (76) and Games Finished (69). The Cy Young voters had him in third with him also placing him sixth in MVP voting.  This would be K-Rod’s last year as an Angel as he signed with the New York Mets as a Free Agent.  Later, he had two All-Star years with the Milwaukee Brewers, and he retired after two seasons with the Detroit Tigers.  Rodriguez had 437 career Saves.

Eligible in 2023.

Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins: 2-2, 47 Saves, 2.10 ERA, 89 SO, AL 2009

Joe Nathan was already an established closer, and this was his sixth consecutive season securing at least 36 Saves.  Nathan who was an All-Star this year, would be one six times over his career and accumulate 377 career Saves.

Eligible in 2022.

Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays: 3-2, 45 Saves, 1.73 ERA, 57 SO, AL 2010

Rafael Soriano was in the Majors for 14 seasons, with only one as a Tampa Bay Ray.  That lone year in Tampa, was his best, as this was the only year he was a league-leader in Saves (45) and had a sub-2 ERA.  Soriano also played for Seattle, Atlanta, New York (AL), Washington and Chicago (NL) and had 207 Saves. 

Eligible in 2021.

John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers: 2-2, 46 Saves, 1.95 ERA, 86 SO, NL 2011

This was John Axford’s third season and the best year of his career.  Axford led the NL in Saves this year (46) and was also ninth in Cy Young voting. Axford would later play for St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Oakland, Toronto and Los Angeles and had 144 Saves over his career. 

Eligible in 2024.

Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles: 2-1, 51 Saves, 2.49 ERA, 41 SO, AL 2012

Johnson was a closer for the first time in his career, and he responded by leading the American League in Saves (51).  He led the AL in the same metric the year after (50) as well as finishing atop the AL leaderboard in Games Finished (63).  He was not an elite closer afterward, playing for Oakland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the Angels, ending his career with 178 Saves.

Eligible in 2024.

The following are the players who have won the Rolaids Reliever of the Year who are still active.

Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: 3-1, 42 Saves, 1.01 ERA, 116 SO, NL 2012

In the season before, Craig Kimbrel won the National League Rookie of the Year while leading the NL in Saves (46).  Kimbrel’s save totals were a little less this year (42), but was still league-leading.  What was really eye-popping was his ERA (1.01), SO/9 (16.7), SO/BB (8.29) and WHIP (0.654).  Kimbrel was fifth in Cy Young voting this year and he also led the NL in Saves the next two seasons.  Kimbrel would later win the Delivery Man of the Year of the Award (2013) and Trevor Hoffman Award (2017).

33 Years Old, Playing for the Chicago Cubs.

The Rolaids Reliever of the Year yielded a higher percentage than you would think considering that the Hall of Fame does not have that many Relief Pitchers in the Hall.  As this is now a defunct award, this total is no likely to change much.

So, what is up next?

We are not venturing to far, as we look at another defunct award for Relief Pitchers, the MLB Delivery Man of the Year.

As always, we thank you for your support, and look for that soon.

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