Continuing the Save Soria Campaign

Just over a week ago I published my thoughts and opinions about why the Royals need to keep Joakim Soria instead of trading him away.  What I didn’t get into in that piece was how the recent history of Royals’ closers has helped to shape the way I value the position and Soria in particular.

At the core of my closer-related beliefs is the basic premise that a closer has great value to any franchise whether they are a 100 win or 100 loss team in any given season.  All we need is to take a stroll through Royals’ history and examine some of the seasons turned in by closers of Kansas City’s past.  I think the list, which covers 1995-2009, makes the reasoning behind my beliefs self-evident.

1995 (Record: 70-74)
Jeff Montgomery (33)  65.2 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 31 SV, 139 ERA+

1996 (75-86)
Jeff Montgomery (34)  63.1 IP, 4.26 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 24 SV, 117 ERA+

1997 (67-94)
Jeff Montgomery (35)  59.1 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 14 SV, 134 ERA+
Hipolito Pichardo (27)  49.0 IP, 4.22 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 11 SV, 110 ERA+

1998 (72-89)
Jeff Montgomery (36)  56.0 IP, 4.98 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 36 SV, 95 ERA+

1999 (64-97)
Jeff Montgomery (37)  51.1 IP, 6.84 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12 SV, 73 ERA+
Scott Service (32)  75.1 IP, 6.09 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 8 SV, 82 ERA+

2000 (77-85)
Ricky Bottalico (30)  72.2 IP, 4.83 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 16 SV, 105 ERA+

2001 (65-97)
Roberto Hernandez (36)  67.2 IP, 4.12 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 28 SV, 117 ERA+

2002 (62-100)
Roberto Hernandez (37)  52.0 IP, 4.33 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 26 SV, 115 ERA+

2003 (83-79)
Mike MacDougal (26)  64.0 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 27 SV, 120 ERA+

2004 (58-104)
Jeremy Affeldt (25)  76.1 IP, 4.95 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 13 SV, 96 ERA+

2005 (56-106)
Mike MacDougal (28)  70.1 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 21 SV, 132 ERA+

2006 (62-100)
Ambiorix Burgos (22)  73.1 IP, 5.52 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 18 SV, 85 ERA+
Joe Nelson (31)  44.2 IP, 4.43 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 9 SV, 106 ERA+

2007 (69-93) *The Mexicutioner Era Begins*

Joakim Soria (23)  69.0 IP, 2.48 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 17 SV, 189 ERA+
Octavio Dotel (33)  23.0 IP, 3.91 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 11 SV, 120 ERA+

2008 (75-87)
Joakim Soria (24)  67.1 IP, 1.60 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 42 SV, 266 ERA+

2009 (65-97)
Joakim Soria (25)  53.0 IP, 2.21 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 30 SV, 198 ERA+

From 1995-2006; the best ERA turned in was 3.33 by Mike MacDougal in 2005, the best WHIP was 1.20 by Jeff Montgomery in 1997, and the best ERA+ was 139 by Jeff Montgomery in 1995.

Joakim Soria has turned in significantly better numbers in ERA, WHIP, and ERA+ in all three of his seasons as the Royals closer.  He has quickly erased over a decade of, at best, mediocre performance at the position while establishing himself as one of the best in baseball.

For those of you in the trade Soria camp, keep the above list in mind as you dream of potential trade returns.  I cannot stress enough that the Royals current option at the position gives them an advantage over all but two teams (Yankees and Twins) in MLB.  How would things have been different in 1999 if they had an elite closer to call on to close out games?  Dan Quisenberry made his ML debut at age 26.  Joakim Soria, at age 25, has turned in three seasons on par with Quisenberry’s finest.  I just don’t see how you can trade a player on that level for a bunch of prospects and “maybes” before you absolutely have to.

I don’t know if the Mexicutioner is capable of turning in even better years in the future, but if he is, I want him wearing a Royals uniform when he does it.

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Tags: AL Central Ambiorix Burgos Baseball Dan Quisenberry Hipolito Pichardo Jeff Montgomery Jeremy Affeldt Joakim Soria Joe Nelson Kansas City Royals KC Mike MacDougal MLB Octavio Dotel Ricky Bottalico Roberto Hernandez Royals Scott Service

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