Hall-of-Famers as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records: Dennis Eckersley
Dennis Eckersley was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility, 2004, with 83.2% of the vote.
Five highlights of Dennis Eckersley's career:
The first two tables below present Dennis Eckersley's career as measured by Player won-lost records, in and out of context.
- Dennis Eckersley spent the first twelve years of his career as a starting pitcher. As a starting pitcher, Eckersley was named to two All-Star teams, received Cy Young votes twice, and earned 20 traditional pitcher wins once, in 1978, when he went 20-8 with a 2.99 ERA in 268.1 innings pitched for the Boston Red Sox.
- Eckersley spent the last twelve years of his career as a relief pitcher. As a reliever, Eckersley was named to four All-Star teams, received Cy Young votes four times, and received MVP votes four times.
- In 1988, Eckersley was voted MVP of the ALCS. He pitched six scoreless innings allowing one hit and two walks with five strikeouts while earning the save in all four of Oakland’s victories in the series. In 27 career relief appearances in the postseason, Eckersley finished 26 games, earned 15 saves, and threw 30.2 innings with a 2.08 ERA with 3 walks and 22 strikeouts.
- In 1990, Eckersley had more saves, 48, than baserunners allowed, 47. Eckersley allowed 41 hits, 4 walks, and had 2 batters reach base on errors.
- In 1992, Eckersley won both the American League Cy Young and MVP awards. Eckersley led the major leagues with 51 saves while amassing a traditional won-lost record of 7-1 in 69 games with a 1.91 ERA over 80 innings pitched.
Dennis Eckersley basically had two careers. From 1975 through 1986, Dennis Eckersley was a starting pitcher. And, generally, he was a good to very good starting pitcher. Over those 12 seasons, Eckersley had an ERA better than league average (ERA+ > 100 per Baseball-Reference) 9 times, he amassed 151 traditional pitching wins, including 20 wins in 1978. He received Cy Young votes twice (in 1978 and 1979) and made two All-Star teams (in 1977 and 1982). Overall, starting pitcher Dennis Eckersley had a fine career, albeit one which probably would not have generated even minimal Hall of Fame support.
The players most similar in career value to the starting pitcher version of Dennis Eckersley since 1947 are shown in the next table.
Not surprisingly, the list contains no Hall of Famers. It does, however, contain two Cy Young winners.
The starting pitcher most similar in career value to the starting pitcher version of Dennis Eckersley is Chris Carpenter. Carpenter had an injury-plagued career in which he pitched the equivalent of about 10-1/2 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals. Carpenter won the NL Cy Young Award in 2005, when he went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA in 241.2 innings for the Cardinals. He also had a second- and third-place finish in Cy Young voting in 2009 and 2006, respectively.
In 1987, Eckersley was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland A's, where Manager Tony LaRussa converted Eckersley to the bullpen. Over the next 12 years - exactly half of Eckersley's career - he pitched exclusively in relief (outside of two starts in May, 1987). In 12 seasons, relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley saved 387 games (second in history at the time). He led his league in saves twice (in 1988 and 1992), made four All-Star teams, received Cy Young and MVP votes four times each, and won both awards in 1992. Although he won his MVP and Cy Young awards in 1992, his finest season as a relief pitcher was 1990, when Eckersley earned more saves than he allowed baserunners. This was almost the second straight season for Eckersley doing that: in 1989, Eckersley had 33 saves and allowed 36 baserunners (32 hits, 3 walks, 1 hit-by-pitch). In addition to his regular-season success, relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley pitched in six postseasons, winning the 1988 ALCS MVP and pitching for a World Series winner in 1989.
The players most similar in career value to the relief pitcher version of Dennis Eckersley are shown in the next table.
The most similar player to the relief pitcher version of Dennis Eckersley was former Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants relief ace Robb Nen. Nen earned 314 saves in his 10-year major-league career (23rd-most all-time), earning 35 or more saves in each of his final seven seasons, including 40 or more saves four times, and leading the league in saves one time (in 2001 with a career high 45 saves). Nen led his league in games finished three times and had 793 strikeouts in 715 career regular-season innings pitched. Nen also pitched in 20 postseason games, pitching 20 innings with 20 strikeouts and a traditional won-lost record of 1-0 with 11 saves and a 2.25 ERA. In his career, Nen made three All-Star teams, received down-ballot Cy Young and MVP votes once each (both in 2000, when he went 4-3, 41 saves, 92 K and a 1.50 ERA in 66 IP), and was part of the World Series winning 1997 Florida Marlins, where he picked up two saves each in the NLCS and World Series.
Chris Carpenter had a long and noteworthy career as a starting pitcher, frequently pitching very well for very good teams. Robb Nen had a distinguished career as a relief ace, pitching very well for some very good teams.
Dennis Eckersley had Chris Carpenter's career and then he had Robb Nen's career. The result was a fascinating - and extremely valuable - 24 years.
Article last updated: March 18, 2020
All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.
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