ATLANTA – When the 2009 season is archived or formatted to some digital data base way in the future, Brad Lidge and the issue of all those blown saves and extraneous runs will be the largest underlying theme. It has to be given how much time we’ve spent talking and writing about it.
Interestingly, all these months later the closer issue has not been resolved. Lidge started blowing saves in earnest in May and kept at it fairly consistently.
Who knows, down the road when we’re looking at the stats on Baseball-Reference or whatever clearinghouse baseball stats are vaulted in, maybe all we will see from Lidge is his save totals. After all, as the closer it is Lidge’s job to save games.
Lidge has 31 saves so far this season after finishing off the Braves in the ninth on Sunday afternoon. In his career, Lidge has saved at least 30 games (with a high of 42) four times in six full seasons. That’s a nice feather in his cap.
Now here’s some historical perspective on Lidge’s 30-plus saves in four seasons: Goose Gossage only got 30 saves in a season twice. The same goes for Rollie Fingers. Bruce Sutter, the other closer in the Hall of Fame, notched four 30-plus saves seasons just like Lidge.
Of course, 30 saves doesn’t mean what it did in the old days. In fact, of the five closers in the Hall of Fame – Gossage, Sutter, Fingers, Dennis Eckersley and Hoyt Wilhelm – only one has put together more 30-plus saves seasons than Lidge.
That will all change when guys like Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera get voted in. By then 45 saves will be what 30 was in the 1970s. Still, it will be interesting to see how history judges Lidge’s ’09 season. Chances are the legacy will have more to do with how the year ends as opposed as what happened between May and September.
He’s nailed down his last three chances in a row, allowing a run in each one of them, but the end justifies the means when it comes to saving games. In that case, the 31 saves comes with no caveats in Lidge’s case.