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Lee Smith: the most dominant closer of his era?

Dec 23, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT

Lee Smith

Here’s a fun Hall of Fame ballot:  Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and … Lee Smith.

Had me until Lee Smith.

That’s from David Lariviere of Forbes, who refers to Smith as “the dominant reliever of his era.”  Smith pitched from 1980 through 1997.  That era, which saw the rise of the one-inning closer, included Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley and the early years of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, among others.

I like Lee Smith a lot. But I don’t think he’s quite Hall of Fame worthy. And “dominant?” Well:

  1. phukyouk - Dec 23, 2010 at 3:54 PM


    you literally just made my day. turning that movie on right now.

  2. Gobias Industries - Dec 23, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Question: how is it that a writer for Forbes has a HOF vote? Or: how does one “earn” a HOF vote? I feel like I should know the answer or could at least figure it out with a little research, but 1.) I have several beers in me right now; 2.) I am too lazy to do a simple Google search; and 3.) I am generally a very stupid person.

    Also, I may be the only person who grew up in the 80s who has never seen The Princess Bride. And I find all of you people who constantly quote the movie annoying. No offense intended. I’ve also never seen Top Gun or Ghostbusters.

    • disulfide - Dec 23, 2010 at 4:54 PM

      Lighten up, Buttercup!

      • phukyouk - Dec 23, 2010 at 5:37 PM

        as you wish!

    • mvd513 - Dec 23, 2010 at 10:35 PM

      We quote the f*ck outta it cuz its a great movie and has some of the best lines of all time. Anyone who hasnt seen The Princess Bride, Top Gun or Ghostbusters is obviously a douche. No offense.

      • Gobias Industries - Dec 24, 2010 at 9:43 AM

        Well that was an odd reaction. But no offense taken.

  3. nps6724 - Dec 24, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Smith led the league in saves 4 times. He had 30+ saves 10 times. He led the league in Games Finished 3 times. He finished 50+ games 12 times, including 11 consecutive seasons. And the only reason the streak ended was due to the ’94 strike. Finished 802 games in total (only Hoffman and Rivera have topped 800). Career ERA+ of 132. 478 saves, which was the career leader for awhile.

    Whether you want to say he was THE Dominant closer of the era or not (looking at the numbers, I’d put him above Fingers, Gossage, and Sutter), he was certainly one of the best closers ever and should be in the Hall if closers are going to be getting in.

  4. cintiphil - Dec 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Lee is certainly a HOF player. There have been few who could dominate from the mound as he did. The old adage of being beaten just by throwing his glove on the mound applies here. Only in his twilight days did this not apply to Lee. I don’t know if he was better or about the same as the other guys mentioned, but he was dominant. Only Gossage and Sutter were equal in my opinion.

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