The Importance of a Closer
When the save statistic was introduced in 1969, it created a measure for how well pitchers finish games. It also created a position that would demand a lot of money. In 2011, Jonathan Papelbon signed a 4 year, $50 million deal after putting together 219 saves in seven seasons with the Red Sox. In comparison, Al Albuquerque, one of the best middle relievers in baseball, made $500,000 last season. However, the hefty price tag that the closer comes with is worth it. In 2012, elite teams successfully saved a higher percentage of games than teams with losing records.
Teams that had 90 or more wins (red box) all converted saves at a 73% or higher clip. Teams that had under 70 wins (blue box) converted saves under 72%, and all but one team were under 63%. Milwaukee's closers had a rough time last year. They converted 60% of their saves, and lead the league in blown saves with 29. Closer and reliever John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez combined for 15 losses and both has ERA's over 4.30. The Brewers also missed the playoffs by five games. If they could have converted only 5 of these save opportunities, they would have made the post season. Overall, a good closer is worth the investment.