Keith Foulke
Keith Foulke

Keith Foulke played 11 seasons in the major leagues with his last season being 2008. This means that he was eligible to appear on the 2014 Hall-of-Fame ballot. For some reason, he failed to make it past the screening committee and did not actually appear on the ballot. Not to suggest Keith Foulke deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but given some of the players who did make the 2014 Hall-of-Fame ballot, I think Foulke deserved better.

Anyway, this is the article which I would have written had Keith Foulke appeared on the 2014 Hall-of-Fame ballot.

The first table below presents Keith Foulke's career as measured by Player won-lost records.

Keith Foulke
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
24
27
4.45.30.456-0.4
0.2
4.15.40.428-0.6-0.1
1998CHA25
54
3.12.20.5850.3
0.7
3.02.70.5240.00.4
1999CHA26
67
6.34.00.6101.0
1.7
5.33.40.6080.81.4
2000CHA27
72
9.12.80.7633.0
3.8
4.42.70.6250.81.3
2001CHA28
72
8.14.80.6271.4
2.2
4.12.50.6220.71.1
2002CHA29
65
4.33.40.5570.3
0.9
3.62.50.5850.40.9
2003OAK30
72
7.93.60.6872.0
2.8
4.23.30.5590.30.9
2004BOS31
72
6.53.30.6651.4
2.0
4.02.70.5930.50.9
2005BOS32
43
3.33.80.465-0.4
0.1
2.22.50.466-0.20.1
2006BOS33
44
2.11.40.5990.3
0.5
2.32.50.476-0.20.1
2008OAK35
31
1.41.70.451-0.2
0.0
1.41.90.432-0.3-0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
619
56.636.40.6098.6
14.9
38.332.00.5452.16.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
16
1.81.10.619 0.51.21.00.541 0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
635
58.437.50.609
15.4
39.533.00.545 7.0


A case can perhaps be made that Keith Foulke's 2000 season was the best season by a relief pitcher, certainly in the past 30 years, and perhaps even in major-league history. The next table shows the top 10 seasons, ranked by pWORL, for players for whom the majority of their value came as relief pitchers in the season in question.

Player Season Team pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
John Hiller1973DET12.25.20.7043.24.3
Wilcy Moore1927NYA14.18.90.6132.94.2
Dan Quisenberry1980KCA12.05.80.6742.84.0
Willie Hernandez1984DET9.93.10.7623.13.9
John Smoltz2002ATL10.03.90.7232.93.9
Keith Foulke2000CHA9.12.80.7633.03.8
Eric Gagne2002LAN9.33.20.7422.83.8
Jim Kern1979TEX12.46.70.6482.53.7
Dick Radatz1964BOS13.08.30.6102.23.6
Mariano Rivera1996NYA9.73.60.7292.73.6


What's interesting is that, by traditional stats, Keith Foulke's 2000 season was no more remarkable than the surrounding years. His 2.97 ERA in 2000 was actually his highest seasonal ERA in any season between 1999 and 2004, his WHIP (1.000) was higher than all but one other season in that stretch (2002). He even had two other seasons with more saves than he had in 2000 (34).

But in context, Keith Foulke was unreal in 2000. In save situations, Foulke had an ERA in 2000 of 2.03. In games that were tied when he entered, he had an ERA of 0.00. In all other games, his ERA was 5.16. But none of the runs he gave up in any of those games ended up mattering: he didn't lose any of those games. When Keith Foulke's pitching mattered to the Chicago White Sox in 2000, he came through for them, time and time and time again.

2014 Hall of Fame Ballot Series