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The Jerome Holtzman Award?

Jan 22, 2010, 4:00 PM EDT

Jayson Stark thinks that closers don’t already get enough phony glory due to their often meaningless, personalized stat, so he proposes a special award just for them:

It’s time for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to establish
a new award for relief pitchers. And if it were up to us, we’d call it
the Jerome Holtzman Award, in honor of the late, great Chicago
baseball-writing legend who invented the modern save rule

Stark’s argument in favor of it basically comes down to his belief that closers are somehow the “forgotten men” during awards season and that we need something special to recognize their accomplishments.

I actually think we have the opposite problem: because they have a special stat open only to them, the value of the closer has become so artificially inflated, both in financial terms and in terms of perceived value to winning ballgames, that their very existence has altered traditional baseball strategy.

As so many others have noted, modern managers routinely hold their best relievers out of the highest leverage situations because someone — maybe Tony La Russa — decided that it’s more important to put them in the game when there are no base runners and they have a three-run lead. Creating some new award to honor that interesting but by no means critical role would only make this worse.

Neat idea, Jayson, but as far as January-doldrum conversation starters go, I’ll take a half dozen more steroid arguments.

  1. Dan - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    I think some sort of Reliever award makes sense, maybe it doesn’t have to focus just on Closers.

  2. all4tookie - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    That already exists…The Rolaids Relief Man Award

  3. Mike - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    I think they already have awards

  4. Ryan - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    They give out awards for tying your shoes correctly 162 games a year, we don’t need any more awards.

  5. Jonny5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Man my ass puckers every time Lidge comes out to close a 3 run lead, nobody on game…… Even when he had his perfect season in 08 it did, the dude gives up alot of walks and hits. I honestly think they’re closer because they are only good for about 12 pitches in a row. Any more and it’s t-ball time.

  6. Bill@TDS - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    But maybe if they do create a new award and publicize the hell out of it, people will stop foolishly voting relievers for CY or MVP, for the same stupid reason they won’t vote for starting pitchers? They have their own award now!
    I’d be okay with that.

  7. Eric Solomon - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    I’m with you, Craig. I love Mariano Rivera, but there’s a reason he’s not winning CY Young and MVP awards – he’s not as valuable as guys who play 150+ games or pitch 200+ innings. For the same reason, very few relief pitchers deserve to make the Hall. Mo will, because over the course of 15+ years his body of work will prove his worth, but he is, appropriately, an exception to the rule. Relievers are specialists. Should we have awards for the best pinch hitter of the year or best defensive replacement?
    (And yes, as a Yankee fan, I get it – Mo is incredibly valuable in his consistency and the ability to “shorten” games…but much more often than not, the 10 best hitters in the league are much more valuable over the course of a season).

  8. scatterbrian - Jan 22, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    There should be a Jerome Holtzman award, but not necessarily for relievers. It should be awarded to the player with the emptiest “traditional” stat. So, for example, Bengie Molina would have been a good candidate for 2009. 20 HRs and 80 RBIs that mask a .285 OBP and 86 OPS+.
    And really, if the BWAAHAHAHA is going to create a award based on relief pitching, wouldn’t you name it after Rivera?

  9. Rays fan - Jan 22, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    How about an award for the middle reliever with the most “held leads?” (Kidding–just kidding)

  10. scatterbrian - Jan 22, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    Take it further. Let’s add a LOOGY of the Year award.

  11. doug - Jan 22, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    You only see the true value of a closer late in the playoffs when a dominate closer can lock up games by going multiple innings when middle relief is not trusted. Rivera is a perfect example. In these situations the closer becomes as valuable as anyone. Very few closers though fall in this category.

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