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Baseball Positions: Closing Pitcher is the Best

January 30, 2013

The closing pitcher is the best position on the baseball field. The closer is the one who gets called at the end of a game to finish it. They come in when the game is close and make sure that the lead is not surrendered. It is a position that includes high pressure, but also high prestige.

No matter how good the starting pitcher is, if they don’t pitch a complete game, somebody needs to come in and pitch the last inning or two. This is where the closing pitcher comes in. The closer specializes in pitching one or two innings effectively and often. They can usually pitch two or three days in a row, as opposed to starting pitchers, who usually pitch every fifth day.

The closing pitcher comes in late in the game when the game is close. Their team will have a slim lead that the closer needs to maintain. The rest of the pitchers got the team to this point, now the closer is called on to shut the other team down. A good closer will keep the lead and earn a save.

This is not a position for the light of heart. There is a lot of pressure involved in a save situation. In order to qualify for a save, the pitcher must come in when either a) the pitcher has no more than a 3 run lead and pitches at least 1 inning, or b) the pitcher comes in when the potential tying run is either on base, at bat, or on deck. There is no room for error. One bad inning by a closer usually means a loss for his team. Unlike a starter, there is not much time, if any at all, for the team to come back.

With this pressure comes prestige. A good closer is valued by his team. In the Major Leagues, a closer has been the MVP four times, League Championship Series MVP three times, and World Series MVP 3 times.

Some of the best closing pitchers from different eras are: Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersly, Eric Gagne, and Trevor Hoffman. All of these pitchers, and many more, were essential to their teams’ success.

This is part of a series of articles explaining why each position on the baseball field is the best. This series is aimed towards coaches at all levels. It is my belief that every position is important, and they each need players with different strengths. It is my hope that coaches can use this series to help inspire a love for the game of baseball.

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