Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The HoG25: The Best 25 Relief Pitchers of the Last 25 Years

(Editor's Note: For reasons I cannot figure out, the image-upload feature is not working at the moment, so we will update when this technical error has been corrected.)

Don't soil your drawers. This ain't no indication of a regular re-appearance of those features you used to not read here on these pages. It is simply, our effort to finish up this series we started a handful of months ago. And make no mistake, it's a tricky one. The idea has been best summarized here by Old No. 7, and as he pointed out, we've touched on various other topics in this feature. Few have come easy; none have come so difficult. Important keys to remember are that the definition of the role of relief pitcher has changed over the years. Today, we don't even have "relief pitchers," as it were. What was once a single role of sorts for one hurler on a squad now falls under the relief umbrella that includes your middle relievers, setup guys, and closers.

What's also tricky is defining the point in time in which said definition of role began changing, or changed, or became accepted, acknowledged. It's a fluid concept, if you will, and that makes pinning down a window of 25, or any other number of, years even sketchier. Perhaps you will agree with our list. There's a chance that you don't like it. Or, maybe, we should've substituted a more concrete category. Either way, it's here, the pitchers are ranked, so we invite you to peruse.

25. Brian Fuentes

Old No. 7: It’s down in this region of our Top 25 that you realize we probably should have made it a Top 10. Not that Brian Fuentes is a bad pitcher, he’s not. It’s just that he has been, in my opinion, miscast for most of his career. He looks like a garden variety lefty specialist -- his semi-sidearm delivery seems tailor-made to sling sliders at dangerous southpaw sluggers and not much else.

Thing is, he’s done quite a bit more than just serve as a lefty specialist. Fuentes closed for the Rockies from 2005-2008, registering more than 20 saves each season. He moved to Los Anaheim in 2009, and he led all of baseball with 48 saves for a playoff team. This is one instance where the save stat fails us -- by looking at the traditional measure of a closer, Fuentes had a terrific year. But look at how Fuentes arrived at those 48 saves, and you’ll conclude it was nothing less than a miracle, a mirage. He struck out only 7.5 batters per nine innings pitched, the worst rate of his career. His ERA+ (112) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.92) were his worst since becoming a full-time closer.

But the Angels under Mike Scoscia play a very particular brand of baseball. They don’t score a gaudy amount of runs, but they scrap and claw and fight for every run available. They run the bases with aggressiveness and efficiency. Their starting pitching is always solid if not spectacular, and most of their games are close. Most important, Scoscia is more rigid with his bullpen hierarchy than any manager in the game. He names a guy for the seventh, a guy for the eighth, and a guy for the ninth, and he never wavers from that list. This is why Francisco Rodriguez saved an MLB-record 62 games for Scoscia in 2008 despite his worst strikeout-to-walk and WHIP rates. Just as pitcher wins can be deceiving if you don’t take into account context and opportunity, looking only at saves to measure relievers can leave you with the wrong ideas.

Fuentes lost his job as closer to Fernando Rodney this year, and after the Angels fell out of it he was traded to the Twins. Minnesota didn’t need a closer, so Fuentes adopted the role of lefty specialist, and he did a good job. Time will tell if he ever gets the opportunity to pitch in the spotlight of the ninth inning again, but he’s acquitted himself well there in his career.

24. Ugueth Urbina

Old No. 7: Among the many qualities we look for in a great closer is intimidation. We have an archetype of a big ol’ badass trotting out of the pen, preferably with impressive facial hair and poor hygiene, and mowing down his helpless opposition with nothing but high heat. Not to pick on Goose Gossage even more (because Goose was a great pitcher), but part of why Goose is so beloved is because he matches the archetype. He played the role to perfection.

Now intimidation can come in many forms. You can act like a lunatic, raving and screaming and huffing and puffing before and after each pitch, strikeout or save. These are your Jonathan Papelbons, your Joba Chamberlains, your Fernando Rodneys, your Dennis Eckersleys, your Brian Wilsons. You can look meek and frail, yet shut motherfuckers down for decades with lethal efficiency. This would be the Mariano Rivera model of intimidation.

Or you could go the route of Ugueth Urbina, who combined hard, wicked stuff, a fearsome scowl and genuinely nasty disposition, and an urge to kill people. I’m not even joking about that last part. Urbina is from Venezuela and has a bunch of land there. In 2005 he accused a group of dudes of stealing a firearm. The men were rounded up, hacked with machetes and doused with gasoline. Urbina is currently serving a 14-year term in prison for attempted murder. Combine that with his 237 saves (33rd all-time) and a record of striking out more than one batter per inning, and you can conclude that Ugueth Urbina had the intimidation thing down.

23. Rick Aguilera

bankmeister: Rick Aguilera spent significant time on the Minnesota Twins roster. Unlike few other Twins in our selection, however, he also did time in New York, Boston, and Chicago. Before landing a full-time gig in the bullpen, Aguilera got the nod for nearly 100 big-league starts. Actually, a small chunk of those were right in the middle of his career when he made a rotation curtain call in Minnesota, but it his work late in games that we’ll have a glimpse of today.

Aguilera’s a tough case, namely because there are probably two dozen other guys you could make just as strong a case for, but the thing I like about a guy like Rick Aguilera was that he was a nobody’s-man kind of reliever. That is, he did spend a lot of time with the Twins, but he also spent considerable time relieving in other cities, too, so he isn’t your face-of-the-franchise kinda guy. He doesn’t have dazzling numbers, and in fact, a hefty majority of them are quite pedestrian. What’s more is that his availability was about as consistent as spring weather. But there’s an aspect to his character that’s important not to overlook, and that is that he always made the grade. He was never a guy that would be forever DFA’d and forgotten; his 16 Major League seasons, 732 appearances testify to that.

Since we’ve moved into the numbers, though, it’s important to recognize that the guy had 317 career saves, over 1000 Ks, made three straight trips to the All-Star Game, and was pretty darn impressive in the strikeouts-per-innings-pitched category. So the guy wasn’t your top-three-rotation sort of hurler, and he was never going to pull out the smoke and mirrors, but a guy like Aguilera gives a general manager, a skipper, and a dugout the necessary confidence when it comes time to turn things over the closer. Rick Aguilera. He’s no Kyra Sedgwick, but he gets a spot on our list.

22. Jeff Reardon

Cecil: Jeff Reardon was a good relief pitcher with the Expos who, upon being traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1987, helped that team win a World Series against the heavily favored Saint Louis Cardinals. There you have it: Jeff Reardon’s baseball career in full.

Not really, of course, but I’m eternally suspicious of anything related to the Minnesota Twins. That’s because the very first pack of baseball cards I ever bought had like three of one Twin, name lost to history and a decade or two of hard drug abuse, who sucked, and sucked hard. He stood, bat at ready, glaring balefully at the camera -— look at him on the field like he someone who can play professional baseball. But he couldn’t. No, he couldn’t. Whatever his name was.

Kirby Puckett was an apple-shaped fraud machine who ate live mice. Kent Hrbek suffered from a lack of vowels. Gary Gaetti, well, he smelled like garlic and had sinister, European Socialistic leanings. Dan Gladden was the lead singer of White Lion. There’s always something suspicious going on up north.

So while Jeff Reardon briefly held the Major League Saves record —- along with, at one point, seemingly everyone else on our list -- and while he managed to stick around professional baseball for 16 years, the thing we should remember about Jeff Reardon is that he was arrested a few years back for Armed Robbery but found not guilty by reason of insanity.

21. Antonia Alfonseca

Old No. 7: Is Antonio Alfonseca on this list solely because he has six fingers on each hand? Maybe. If this exercise has proven anything, it’s that you need more than one stat to measure a great relief pitcher. You can’t hang your hat on raw saves alone, or ERA or winning percentage or championships won. Sometimes you need to think outside the box, and the digits that matter most are the ones dangling from your knuckles.

Alfonseca has a condition called polydactyly, which means he has six phalanges on each appendage where you and I only have five. Now extra fingers could come in handy for a lot of tasks -— for instance, if I had 12 fingers with which to type instead of ten, I might have met the original deadline for the essay you’re reading instead of being a year late.

Pitchers use their fingers even more than fat, lazy bloggers. They use them to grip various pitches, and if five fingers can create the drag needed for a nasty big-league changeup, what can six fingers do? THESE PROJECTIONS ARE INCALCULABLE.

Alfonseca was drafted by the Yankees, who wanted to immediately amputate his extra sausages so he’d conform to their bland corporate sameness. Luckily the suits were outvoted by wise baseball men, who saw Alfonseca’s forests of phalanges as little laboratories for new and unseen pitches. All of a sudden, the possibility existed for fastballs that travelled at the speed of sound, curveballs that broke backwards, sliders that could slice concrete to ribbons and cure cancer. And thus, El Pulpo (The Octopus) was born.

Unfortunately, Alfonseca wasn’t much of a pitcher. He grew a prodigious spare tire and gave up a lot of hits, although he did lead the NL in saves with 45 in 2000. Although he never reached the full potential his awesome genetic gift promised us, he did pave the way for future polydactyls to play major league baseball. He’s like Jackie Robinson, only for the millipede race. Some day, another Antonio Alfonseca will have a chance to play ball, give me six and hang 12 because of the bravery and courage of El Pulpo. It is you close-minded, five-fingered bigots who are the true freaks.

I’ve also been told there’s a used custom baseball glove for sale on the eBays.

20. John Smoltz

Old No. 7: Welcome, folks, to the only athlete to appear on not one but two HoG25 lists. John Smoltz was our No. 5 starting pitcher, and that’s the role he’s most associated with. But following a series of injuries and Tommy John surgery that made it difficult for him to stay in the Braves’ rotation for a full season, Smoltz took over for John Rocker as Atlanta’s closer in 2001.

He was not good in that role, but great. He set the NL record with 55 saves in 2002, and added another 91 saves combined in 2003 and 2004. After that, he returned to the starting rotation, where he ended his career last year. Smoltz and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley are the only two pitchers to have recorded both a 20-win season and a 50-save season. If you know me, you know I’m pretty disdainful of judging pitchers by only tallying wins or saves, and especially by creating magic numbers like 20 wins to signify greatness. But that’s still pretty cool.

In a way, though, Smoltz’s foray into the bullpen signifies how random the numbers attached to elite closers are. Smoltz was a great starter who couldn’t stay healthy, so he spent four years closing and was dominant -— easily the best in his league and among the two or three best in baseball. Curt Schilling did the same for the Red Sox in 2005, taking over for Keith Foulke and serving as a fairly unhittable relief stopper. The fact that great starters transition so easily to the bullpen, yet great closers almost never become great starters, says something about the skill it takes to close games out. It’s not nothing, it is a valuable talent, but closers are often overvalued.

19. Keith Foulke

Old No. 7: Some might wonder why Keith Foulke is listed ahead of others who seem more deserving. It’s simple: I’m a Red Sox fan, I’m incredibly biased, and I like Foulke because he was the closer for the 2004 team that won the World Series. It’s my choice, not yours, and if you disagree with it you’re stupid.

If you want “facts and data” to support this pick, they’re all there. Foulke saved 30 or more games four times for the White Sox, A’s and Red Sox, and in 2003 he led the league with 43. He never walked anyone -— Foulke had a season WHIP under 1.00 four times in his career, which is remarkable even with the relatively low number of innings (and thus small sample sizes) thrown by closers these days. His career WHIP is 1.07. He simply threw strikes and got outs.

In the magical playoff run for the ’04 Sox, Foulke was called on to throw every single night, often when a single mistake would have ended Boston’s season. He hurled six innings in the ALCS against the Yankees, including a harrowing 2 2/3-inning stint in Game Four.

But what’s most important about Keith Foulke is that I was asked my opinion of the 25 top relief pitchers from the last 25 years, and my opinion is he belongs. To this point, no one has belittled that opinion or pointed out other opinions that are contrary to mine. It would be very easy for me to point out how the opinions of others differ from mine, and how others enjoy movies, TV shows or ballplayers that I think are horrible. But out of respect for my friends, I don’t do that. Because I’m not a fucking asshole (Editor's Note: Unsubstantiated). Keith Foulke rules.

18. Francisco Rodriguez

bankmeister: You could say that it’s hard not to like K-Rod. But not for me. I don’t particularly care for K-Rod, but that’s largely attributable to the fact that he molests little Venezuelan boys in the off-season. It’s either that or I don’t like his dumb glasses and his fist pumps and his heavenly finger-pointing, I can’t remember. But I suppose if I were a non-jaded fan of a team that didn’t struggle to not lose 100 games nearly every season, I might have a different perspective. K-Rod, be he a Met or an Angel, is kind of an arbitrary figure. He’s a guy you’d like to have on your team, but since you don’t, he’s always toying with tooldom. Sorry, bro. Facts are facts.

But if you just take a moment at look at his accomplishments, it’s hard not to appreciate what he’s done as a closer in his already-impressive eight seasons in baseball. In eight seasons, Rodriguez has earned himself four All-Star appearances: check. In eight seasons, Rodriguez has been among the conversations for Cy Young considerations, and tallied a new single-season record for saves (62): check. In eight seasons, Rodriguez has saved 40 or more games: check. And in eight seasons, Rodriguez has toyed with tripling his strikeout-versus-walk number, kept his E.R.A. around a cool 2.53, and averaged 74 innings worth of labor per season: check, check, and check.

Need we go on? Fine. His post-season numbers: Francisco Rodriguez has a .556 winning percentage in playoff baseball. He has finished eight games, saved three, struck out 41 while walking only 14, and yes, he does have a ring. In the World Series in which he won that ring, his strikeouts-per-nine-innings number was 13.5. So, there. Ask yourself if he belongs on this list. If you answered no, you’re probably a Canadian.

(Update: It's been a minute since I wrote this, and, as it turns out, opposing batters aren't the only thing that fall victim to Rodriguez's punchouts. Apparently, his father-in-law does, too.

17. Joe Nathan

bankmeister: There are two things that I don’t like about Joe Nathan: 1) He’s a Texan. 2) He pitches for the Minnesota Twins. The irony therein is that I like the Minnesota Twins, but for reasons I’ve never really been able to grasp, they always seem to have the edge on the Royals. The counters to those obviously personal takes are simple: 1) Not every person born in The Lone Star State is a dweezil (see: Lamar, Clark Hunt). 2) The Twins have, for better or for worse, run a pretty darn good organization for a long time. So let’s just dig into the dude’s performance.

Nathan barely squeezes into the top 30 in career saves, but he’s eighth among actives, and also in good company in the form of a multi-player tie for single season. He spent his first four MLB seasons as a San Francisco Giant and he was in the rotation for the first two of those four, going 12-8 over 29 starts. Since moving to the bullpen, though, he’s been super-reliable in terms of availability missing significant time in only 2003, and he averages about 83 innings a season, which is solid. He’s thrown 718 strikeouts to only 262 walks, and, barring any setbacks this spring, he’ll continue to give up a jack only once every 10 outings.

With four All-Star appearances and a handful of close calls in both league MVP and Cy Young races, Nathan’s portfolio warrants inclusion on our list. Add to the fact that he is a perennial front-runner in the games-finished category, and I’d love having Nathan on my team.

(Update: It's been a minute since I wrote this, and, it turns out, there were some setbacks in the spring.)

16. John Wetteland

Cecil: There are going to be a few entries on this list that don't blow your skirt up, and that's fine -- not everyone is Mariano Rivera or Dennis Eckersley. Such is the case with one John Wetteland.

Wetteland didn't amass stunning numbers of saves, didn't experience a long period of dominance and didn't make hitters' knees quake in fear the way some of our other Top 25 guys did, but he did do one thing that most of them didn't: win a World Series MVP award, and for the Yankees no less. One truly great season with the most famous sports franchise in the world (this could be quibbled with, I suppose, but we're jingoists here, so Manchester United and Real Madrid can suck on it) is, as it turns out, enough to gain recognition --at least from three dudes in flyover country -- as one of the Best Closers in Recent Memory.

To be fair, it was a pretty dadgummed good season: 43 saves, Rolaids Relief Man Award, four saves in four games in the Series and seven overall in the playoffs. And the guy did manage to find his way onto three All-Star teams. So, I guess, that makes him better than, say, Steve Bedrosian, but not as good as Bobby Thigpen or Tom Henke. There's worse company to be in.

Also, his current job is with the Mariners as the bullpen coach. It rains a lot in Seattle. So, Wetteland in a wet land, amirite? No? Never mind.

15. Bruce Sutter

Cecil: I’m no fan of the Saint Louis Cardinals. Such is my disdain that I purposefully spell out “St.” when writing about them, on the off chance that a Cardinals fan might see it and get peeved. Yes, Jethro, feel my disdain.

I probably shouldn’t, though, Cubs fandom aside. I grew up far away from the heat of the team’s traditional rivalries, as I’ve mentioned (or maybe I haven’t mentioned it yet? Well, wait until the Lee Smith bit, you’ll see), and my own dear dad was something of a closet Cardinal fan, if by “closet” you mean “team he actually liked more than any other growing up in 1920s and ‘30s California.” Pepper Martin, Ducky Medwick, Dizzy and Daffy-who-wasn’t Dean. Those were his guys. Stan Musial. Ernie Lombardi. I thrilled to tales of their baseballing derring -- do in an era where everyone’s pants seemed a size or two too large.

And yet, for some reason, his appreciation for the Gashouse Gang and the Musial-powered machine that followed eventually left me cold. Thinking back on it, I’m pretty sure I can blame Whitey Hertzog’s powerhouse Cards squads of the 1980s, staffed with guys like Vince Coleman, Jack Clark, Tommy Herr (YOU WERE NO SANDBERG MR. HERR) and Bruce Sutter.

Bruce Sutter was replaced later in the decade by the equally hate-able but unequally bearded Todd Worrell, but still, fuck Bruce Sutter. He’d been a Cub, and was a great Cub, but they traded him for Leon Durham and another dude who wasn’t Keith Moreland. That right there would be reason enough to despise the guy -— thanks for fielding that fucking grounder against the Padres, Durham, you begoggled coke snarfer -— but he didn’t even have the decency to fade into obscurity when he left Chicago. Rather, he continued to be what he was: baseball’s most dominant reliever.

Sutter led the NL in Saves every year but one from 1979 until 1984, and topped the majors in that category three times during that span. I’m not nearly as conversant with advanced stats as Ol’ No. 7 -— thus my meatheaded insistence on claiming Goose Gossage as the toughest goddamn fireman of all the histories, fancy numbers be damned -— but Sutter’s ERA + in 1984, the year he set a then Major League single season record with 45 saves, was 229. I’m pretty sure that’s good. He won the Cy Young in ’79. He made six All Star teams. In 1977 he struck out Gary Carter, Ellis Valentine and Larry Parrish on 9 pitches, and was at the time only the 19th pitcher in baseball history to accomplish such a feat. He also popularized the split-finger fastball, which is probably his biggest legacy, seeing as his Save records have fallen by the wayside.

He’s in the Hall of Fame, and I can grudgingly accept, after many minutes of rumination, that he deserves to be. And yet. Fuck him, fuck his chin curtain and fuck the Cardinals of Saint Louis.

14. Bobby Thigpen

bankmeister: Bobby Thigpen makes for a tough case. For a lot of players – position and pitcher alike – it’s tough to look at a guy that didn’t contribute 12, 13-plus seasons to the Bigs, and say, “That dude was awesome.” Now, you look at a guy like Thigpen, who debuted in 1986, which was right in the thick of when the actual reliever role was no longer defined as the guy that came in to spell the starter and hopefully finish the game. It was no longer a cloudy sort of role, wherein guys would sometimes come in to close. No, by 1986, teams were using starters, middle relievers, and closers. It’s not quite like today where you have a bunch of middle relievers, a setup guy, and a closer, but still: Thigpen’s role was clear. He started zero games as a professional baseball player. His job was to bring ‘er home, if you will. So you look at his career save total, which is 201, which ain’t bad, but it’s also 38th on the all-time list.

So the next thing you might look at would be innings pitched. Thigpen delivered 568.2 total through nine seasons. That’s an average of 31 innings a season, which tells me two things: 1) You’d better’ve dealt with some injuries, and 2) You’d better’ve closed some dang games. Luckily for Yancy Tyler Bobby Thigpen, he did both. Thigpen had some incredible years. Like 1990, where, as a 26-year-old, he saved 57 games. Fifty-seven! Now, Francisco Rodriguez took that mark two years ago when he saved 62, so he holds the number-one spot now in the single-season-save-total category. But the Anaheim teams for which Rodriguez played were far superior to anything happening in the South Side in the early ‘90s. Sure, the White Sox won 94 games that season. They were good. But they weren’t perennial contenders like these Angels clubs are.

More importantly: Mariano Rivera saved 53 contests six years ago. He’ll never touch Thigpen or Rodriguez, or Eric Gagne, or John Smoltz for that matter. Eat some steaming pig feces, Mariano Rivera. For the rough purposes of this particular entry, you blow.

Anyway, Thigpen averaged 31 saves a year over his nine years, and that’s including a total of two saves over his final four seasons, so the point is: For one quick, impressive flash in the pan that was about five years long, Bobby Thigpen was one of the best 25 relievers of the past 25 years. It has been said.

13. Dave Righetti

bankmeister: Dave “The Big Ragu” Righetti is a name that I will always associate with baseball play-by-play announcers of the 1980s. I don’t know why but I always admired the guy. Righetti was taken in the first round of the ’77 draft by the Texas Rangers, but for whatever reason, he debuted in the bigs as a Yankee. Rightfully so, Righetti won the A.L. Rookie of the Year award in 1980 when he started 15 games, logged 100-plus innings, and registered a 2.05 E.R.A. From there it was just a matter of time before Righetti would become one of the best relievers of the decade, earning back-to-back All-Star bids, along with MVP and Cy Young considerations in 1986.

It was in that fantastic season when the southpaw logged eight wins, finished 68 games, and earned 47 saves in the process. He did so with a 2.45 E.R.A., 83 strikeouts, and only 35 BBs. Throughout his career, however, Righetti averaged just over 100 innings of service per season, and just shy of 100 strikeouts per campaign, which basically identifies why the dude was as solid as he was: He got guys out with noteworthy consistency over a long period of time. Though he never won himself a ring, he did go 3-0 in post-season appearances, tallying 18 fans to seven free bases.

Dave Righetti is also the proud owner of one of my all-time favorite stats: He, until Dennis Eckersley joined him, was the only pitcher in baseball history to pitch a shutout and lead the league in saves in his career. That right there’s impressive. I don’t care who you are. Dave Righetti and Meatballs: worthy of HoG25 inclusion.

12. Troy Percival

Old No. 7: Right around here is where the quality of closers takes a serious upswing. If Percival was a hitter, he might be Steve Garvey -— not quite a Hall of Famer but a big name who put up good numbers for a long time.

Most closers flame out. They dominate for a short time, and then either their arm blows up or they simply can’t get the job done anymore. Eric Gagne, Bobby Thigpen, Mitch Williams and David Aardsma all had a huge year or two, but the rest of their careers were completely pedestrian. Look at the list of closers for the 30 MLB teams coming out of spring training, and then look at it in September. In an average year, half of the list turns over. Half. Guys either get hurt or get fired, and it’s not just rookies and journeymen. Jonathan Broxton began 2009 as arguably baseball’s best closer and the top pick at the position in fantasy baseball. The Dodgers finished the year allowing Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen to finish games, while a healthy Broxton, in his prime at 26, filled a mop-up role. It comes and it goes in this game.

That’s what separates one-hit wonders from truly exceptional closers like Troy Percival. Percy nailed it down for nine full seasons in Los Anaheim, averaging almost 35 saves a year while the Angels transitioned from also-rans to contenders and finally 2002 World Series champs under Mike Scoscia. Percival answered the bell every time for almost a decade, which doesn’t seem like much until you measure him against his peers. Percival was a rock.

11. Rollie Fingers

bankmeister: Roland Glen Fingers is one of those bubble athletes that appear in each of these selections that flirts with our pre-determined window of time. Most of Fingers’ impressive career happened before our window opened, and I’ve no problem admitting that. I’ll own my selection, and I’ll state that some of my desire to select him was the ‘stache. You’d be a fool not to give that waxed piece of history its due props. It was the complete pitcher that threw me for a loop, though, every time he took the hill. I saw Fingers pitch quite a few times as a youngster and I was old enough to know that people just don’t come out of the womb looking like that, so I imagine that a part of me wondered if a person could invest time and energy into a look and still be an effective game-time performer. Turns out, a person can.

Funny thing about Fingers, though, was that he was, in my pea brain, a Milwaukee Brewer, pure and simple. It was a time when, to me, athletes simply logged a career in one uniform, and to be fair to myself, a lot of guys did. But imagine my shattered understanding of professional sports when I later learned that the mustachioed one had served nearly a decade with the A’s, another handful of years with San Diego, and only, at the end of his career, did he become a Brewer.

The numbers on Fingers are lovable, however, even if he hung up the spikes near the beginning of our segment. He won, as an A, three consecutive World Series, earned eight All-Star-Game appearances, and one Cy Young Award. Over 1700 innings of service, he netted 341 saves (good for Top 10 all time), tallied a career 2.90 E.R.A, and 1300 strikeouts. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love and respect Rollie Fingers, and those that get stabbed in the appendix. Unless of course, you had your appendix removed before you had an opinion on the man.

That's 25-11, kids. If you remember the drill, we'll be back tomorrow for the remaining 10. Hope you enjoyed.