Thursday, July 01, 2004

The most impressive baseball streaks

Howdy Kari:

Did you see this item over at ESPN.com?

Excerpt:
Starting Aug. 28, 2002, he has converted 83 consecutive save opportunities, 29 more than the previous record of 54 by Tom Gordon, and doubling the streak of any other reliever since the save rule became official in 1969. Gagne has accomplished this remarkable feat for a winning team, and with a hits-to-innings-pitched ratio that is Danny Almontean, a walk-to-strikeout ratio that is Koufaxian and a reliability that can only be described as Gagnenian.

So, how does his streak compare to other great streaks in baseball history, those of Joe DiMaggio, Cal Ripken and Orel Hershiser?
The 83rd save was notched tonight as he struck out the side and preserved a 5-4 win over the Giants.

The order of Kurkjian's comments is how he rates the streaks.

I have to say I can't disagree with his putting DiMaggio's streak at the top of the list. It is often said that hitting a baseball is the toughest skill of the major sports and the fact that DiMaggio got hits in 56 straight games is incredible.

I'm a little less certain about his putting Ripken ahead of Hershiser's streak. I assume in Ripken's 2,632 consecutive games, there were games where he didn't play all 9 innings? And I'm sure in some of the games he wasn't at his best or even close to his best.

For Hershiser to get 59 consecutive scoreless innings, he had to be pretty much on top of his game or close to it for quite a long stretch. Ripken's streak is a case where the sheer quantity makes a qualitative statement. But I'd put Hershiser's streak ahead of Ripken because of its qualitative difficulty.

I'll have to agree with Kurkjian in putting Gagne's streak as number four on this list. The save as a stat is not the most stringent as is consecutive games. But since Ripken's streak is so far and away beyond anyone else and in the era of managers and owners playing it safe with their star players, it is a record unlikely to be challenged thus it edges out Gagne's streak ... for now.

Have a fine fourth of July, Kari.

Rene

UPDATE: The streak is over. 84 saves! What a run Gagne had. I'm sure there will be articles detailing the stats of the streak in the sports pages but for now this excerpt will do:
Realizing that Gagne's streak was over, the crowd at Dodger Stadium gave Gagne a standing ovation as he stood on the mound with his head down.

Gagne retired the next two batters and got another standing ovation on his way to the dugout, before taking a curtain call to wilder cheers.


UPDATE: Here is some reaction from the blogosphere. Priorities and Frivolities (Tagorda) says:Through the franchise's ups and downs these past few years -- and, indeed, there have been many -- we've had one constant, supplied by our closer win after win after win. Tonight, "game over" it isn't in the middle of the ninth. But we still salute our man.

Tagorda links Baseball musings and Dodger Thoughts.

This item is an older post from Dodger Thoughts describing the atmosphere and stats of the Gagne phenomena.

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