In doing some research for a book I’m writing, I came across Goose Gossage’s 1975 season for the Chicago White Sox. Most folks think of Gossage as a member of the New York Yankees, but he got his start with the ChiSox.
Anyway, in 1975, he saved 26 games. That isn’t a remarkable total by today’s standards, but take a look at his game logs from that year. A few things about Gossage’s season jump out at me:
- He worked more than a single inning in 41 of his 62 appearances.
- He pitched three or more frames on 22 different occasions.
- He faced 20 or more batters in a game six times
Gossage actually faced 34 batters in a game against the Red Sox. He entered in the seventh inning and lost in the 14th on a two-run homer to Carl Yastrzemski. Heck, starting pitchers don’t throw that many pitches in a game nowadays.
Gossage faced a total of 582 batters in 1975. To put this into perspective, consider that Trevor Hoffman (47) and Francisco Rodriguez (46) had the two highest saves totals in 2006. Combined, they faced 38 fewer batters than Gossage did in 1975. They also worked 5 2/3 fewer innings, and yet they combined for 67 more saves.
You know how Gossage was rewarded for his spectacular season? He was moved to the rotation in ’76. Needless to say, the role of closer has changed just a tad in the intervening 30 years.