The Pitchers, Starting with the pen

Relief pitchers are a relatively recent phenomena in baseball, and the set-up man is even more recent. Unless you guys give me a rash of grief, I'm not ready to do a ballot of set-up men, just starters and relievers. Remember, We're going to examine these players for their best single season, not a whole career.
Probably the age of the relief pitcher started in the 1960's, and our first Tiger nominee is John Hiller. Nobody illustrates the transformation of the role of the reliever better than Hiller: I thought his premier year as a reliever was 1968, but I was surprised to see that he started 12 games that year, and while he had a fine 2.39 ERA, he was credited with only two saves.
Instead, I think I would nominate Hiller for his role as a reliever in 1973, when he got 38 saves in 65 appearances, with a 1.44 ERA. (A footnote after these Canadian Olympics, Hiller, a native of Toronto, never played for another major league team in his 15-year major league career.)
Willie Hernandez came over from the Phillies in 1984, and marked his greatest number of saves right out of the box, 32 saves in 68 attempts, with an incredible 1.92 ERA.
Todd Jones posted an amazing 37 saves in 2006, but frankly it doesn't look so hot, when you compare his ERA (3.94) and 2-6 won-loss record. For those of you who lived in Detroit then, was he really that good, or did he just have a red-hot Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney to cover for him?
Similarly, Fernando Rodney posted an incredible 37 saves last year, but to do it, he gave up a run every other time out of the pen, for a 4.4 ERA.


  1. I am afraid the poll is slanted towards Willie/Guillermo. I have tried to vote for Hiller for two days and cannot get my vote to count. Now I know how Al Gore felt in Florida

  2. Hmm. I'll ignore the leftist Gore comment. He just didn't understand the electoral college. But Did you ever get to vote for Hiller? I see someone did.

  3. it has never accepted my vote --- boohoo

  4. You know once you vote, it locks you out of further voting. Here's a tip: get one of the kids to vote for Hiller from their computer. Tell them it's your "proxy vote." Democrats do it all the time.