GOSSAGE: MOST DOMINANT CLOSER?
Jayson Stark has this to say about Goose Gossage:
I’m going to unfurl this rant one final time: Goose Gossage was the most dominating closer ever. Ever. And I don’t care who else you want to throw up there against him. Go right ahead. Want to take Mariano Rivera? Great. Let’s compare them.
Stacking up save totals doesn’t work, because Gossage was pitching in a time when managers were mysteriously using their closers in an attempt to (gasp) win games, as opposed to just helping them pile up save totals. So let’s toss out saves and stack up Rivera’s 11 full seasons as a closer versus the Goose’s first 11 full seasons as a closer. Want to pick a category? Be my guest. ERA? Gossage 2.21, Rivera 2.35. Strikeouts? Goose 8.54 whiffs per 9 innings, Rivera 8.09. Unhittability? Gossage 6.59 hits per 9 innings, Rivera 7.17. So … any more questions? And remember, the Goose was unleashing all that domination even though he was routinely being asked to pitch 100 to 141 innings (yep, 141) a year.
One thing Stark doesn’t point out is league ERA. For his career Goose was 3.01 and the league’s was 3.78. Rivera’s career ERA is 2.35 against the league’s 4.56. Huge difference. As for Goose “routinely” being asked to pitch over 100 innings, he did it 4 times in a 22-year career. Why we should only look at Goose’s first 11 years when he pitched 22 is beyond me. We are either rewarding his longevity or not. Rivera will be looked at the same way when he is done.
If Gossage was truly the most dominant closer ever, he would have been in already. I have a really hard time believing he’s better than Eckersley, Fingers, Rivera or even Trevor Hoffman. Goose was a special player but doubtfully the best ever at his position.