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Just a quick drive-by Data Dependent. The trade of Josh Hader, one of baseball’s premier closers, to the San Diego Padres got me thinking about how the current crop of saves leaders stack up against the all-time greats. And while there’s no shortage of new (and old) stats that allow you to compare players between eras (WAR, waaWL%, WHIP, WPA, cWPA, the list is endless), I was curious about how much pressure they were under while registering their save (or blown saves).
I turned to baseball-reference.com‘s handy Game Entering Leverage Index (gmLI) as my key data point. The definition provided by the site is as follows:
- Solely for relief appearances, this is the average of each appearances opening leverage index weighted by the batters faced in that outing. - The average pressure the pitcher or batter saw in this game or season. - 1.0 is average pressure, below 1.0 is low pressure and above 1.0 is high pressure.
So here are the top 30 closers all-time according to total saves and their gmLI:
I even made a pretty chart to make things easier to digest.
Back to Hader and today’s crop of Firemen and their career numbers. Here are the top closers and their gmLI:
And another nifty chart:
Surprisingly, there isn’t that much wiggle room between the top of the crop when it comes to how difficult the situation was when they entered the game. That said, if we’re going by gmLI (which we are), the winner’s trophy goes to Rollie Fingers, who was not only one of the game’s premier closers, but also had the best moustache of all time.
IMAGE CREDIT: mlb.com