One mean streak
How incredible was Eric Gagne during his streak? For starters, he totaled more saves (84) than hits allowed (71).
Any time a guy blows a save for the first time in 23 months, we're required by law to fire off an emergency Eric Gagne edition of our Useless Information Department. So here goes:
Useless Gagne-Vs.-Everyone-Else Info
Smoltz 69 of 74
Wagner 63 of 68
Rivera 70 of 77
Foulke 58 of 66
Guardado 65 of 74
Useless Domination Info
Next-best on Planet Closer (but not even close) during the same stretch were Smoltz (83 H - 69 SV), Wagner (77-63) and Guardado (79-65).
He steamrollered 25 consecutive hitters without a baserunner in the July-August streak, and 24 in a row in the May-June streak. Ridiculous.
He whiffed three hitters or more in 16 of them (19 percent).
He recorded every out on a strikeout in 14 of them (17 percent).
He struck out every hitter he faced in seven of them (8 percent).
And ohbytheway, in one stretch, he struck out at least one hitter in 35 straight trips to the mound.
His ERA was 0.82.
He struck out 14.3 hitters per nine innings.
He gave up only 4.1 hits per nine innings.
He totaled many more saves (84) than baserunners (61).
He racked up almost 100 more strikeouts (139) than hits (43).
And of the 23 runners he inherited in those games, none of them scored.
Useless What-If Info
To find that answer, we needed to subtracted all blown saves by closers from each team's record. In most cases, we defined a "closer" as anybody with at least 10 save opportunities this season. In the cases of the two clubs that have had been through multiple closers (Toronto and Cleveland), we subtracted all blown ninth-inning saves.
So how would that have changed the standings heading into games of Tuesday? Here's how:
Useless Quality-Control Info
You don't have to be Rollie Fingers to know that not all saves are created equal. But in the old saves column, there's not a whit of difference between coming into a one-run game and striking out the side and coming into a three-run game and giving up two runs on six hits, then collecting your save on a bases-loaded line drive.
So the big question is: How many of Gagne's saves were cheapies and how many were of the rarified break-a-sweat variety?
Well, of Gagne's 84 saves, he entered the game with a one-run lead 38 times, a two-run lead 17 times and a lead of three or more 29 times. So that tells us something. But we need to know more.
So the Elias Sports Bureau has devised a formula for something called a "Quality Save." To earn a Quality Save, a pitcher needs to:
And if you use that definition, it's clear Gagne didn't just earn the most saves in baseball during his streak. He also earned the toughest.
During Gagne's streak, just 30 percent of all saves qualified as "Quality Saves." But almost half of Gagne's saves were Quality Saves. Here's the leader board, courtesy of Elias:
MOST QUALITY SAVES DURING THE STREAK:
Gagne 38 of 84 (45.2%)
Guardado 21 of 64 (32.8%)
Rivera 21 of 70 (30.0%)
Wagner 21 of 63 (33.3%)
HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF QUALITY SAVES DURING STREAK (MIN.: 10 QUALITY SAVES):
Eric Gagne 38 of 84 (45.2%)
Joe Nathan 10 of 23 (43.5%)
Matt Herges 10 of 24 (41.7%)
Trevor Hoffman 11 of 27 (40.7%)
Joe Borowski 17 of 42 (40.5%)
Mike DeJean 10 of 25 (40.0%)
Jose Jimenez 14 of 35 (40.0%)
Of course, there's one big difference between those other guys in the 40-percent group of Gagne. They blew 36 saves in that time -- and Eric Gagne blew nada.
Useless Streaks-During-The-Streak Info
Finally, Gagne might have had the most visible streak of the last two years -- but not the only streak. So with the help of Elias, we've compiled some other notable baseball streaks during Gagne's streak:
Consecutive games with a hit
30 Albert Pujols July 12-Aug. 16, 2003
Consecutive games with a home run
7 Barry Bonds April 12-20, 2004
15 Roy Halladay May 1-July 27, 2003
Consecutive starts with a win
11 Roger Clemens Sept. 11, 2003-May 11, 2004
11 Roy Halladay May 1-June 22, 2003
Consecutive starts with a loss
9 Mike Maroth Sept. 22, 2002-May 1, 2003
Consecutive starts without a win
19 Dan Wright May 9, 2003-May 1, 2004
Consecutive wins (team)
15 San Francisco Giants Sept. 20, 2002-April 7, 2003
Consecutive losses (team)
13 Detroit Tigers Sept. 26, 2002-April 11, 2003
Most consecutive games without a save
136 Ray King (but only 2 blown saves)
Do you know me? I've won more games (124) than any active pitcher who has never made an all-star team, even though I have the eighth-highest winning percentage (.611) among active pitchers with at least 100 wins. In fact, no pitcher in the last half-century has as many wins as I do and a career winning percentage over .600 without making an all-star team. Who am I?
ANSWER: Kirk Rueter.
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