The All-80's Team - AL Relief Pitcher

Astroturf, powder blue uniforms, wearing batting helmets in the field to protect your jheri curl, hitting 25 homers and being considered a legitimate slugger, big-league hair, that horrible gum from packs of baseball cards.... who doesn't love baseball from the 80's? Over the next several weeks I will be looking at the best players of the decade as we assemble the TMS All-80's Team. We've finished with the National League and now we'll tackle the American. To meet the criteria a player will have to have played in at least 4 seasons in the 1980's and they must have played the bulk of their games at a certain position during that time to qualify there. Included will be a poll on the left sidebar, so our faithful readers can weigh in on this great debate. But remember, we're focusing on a player's contributions in just the 1980's. What they did in the decades before and/or after are not being considered in this.

This is it. We've come to the final position, AL Relief Pitcher. It seems like yesterday that we were just starting this thing with NL Catcher (Christ, that was in August!). Actually it probably feels more like this damn feature has drug out longer than it probably should've, but oh well.

AMERICAN LEAGUE RELIEF PITCHERS

Dennis Eckersley
Boston Red Sox (1980-84), Oakland A's (1987-89)

Nickname: Eck
Hall of Fame: 2004
All-Star: 1982, 1988
Awards: 1988 ALCS MVP
Rolaids Relief: 1988
Postseason: 1988 WS, 1989 WS
League Leader: 1988 Saves


Notes: When Eck came to Oakland in 1987 he had pretty much become a middle of the rotation starter at best. But Tony LaRussa had other plans for him. Using him at first as a middle reliever, Eck was eventually thrusted into the closer role when Jay Howell got injured. The move proved successful and Eck redefined his career as one of the best closers of his time.


Rollie Fingers
Milwaukee Brewers (1981-82, 1984-85)

Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1992
All-Star: 1981, 1982
Awards: 1981 AL MVP, 1981 AL Cy Young
Rolaids Relief: 1981
Postseason: 1981 ALDS
League Leader: 1981 Saves

Notes: Rollie was nearing the end of his career in the early 80's, but that didn't stop him from posting some great numbers. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Rollie led the league in saves with 28 and posted a 1.08 ERA, en route to winning both the AL MVP and Cy Young Award. Rollie's moustache is also an inaugural inductee of the Sports Hair Hall of Fame.



Rich Gossage
New York Yankees (1980-83, 1989)

Nickname: Goose
All-Star: 1980-82, (1984, 1985 with Padres)
Postseason: 1980 ALCS, 1981 WS
League Leader: 1980 Saves

Notes: Goose was an outstanding reliever for New York in the early 80's and is widely considered the pioneer of the modern-day closer role. Recently snubbed by the latest Hall of Fame voting, Goose looks to probably be the most likely inductee in 2008.






Tom Henke
Texas Rangers (1982-84), Toronto Blue Jays (1985-89)

Nickname: The Terminator
All-Star: 1987
Postseason: 1985 ALCS, 1989 ALCS
League Leader: 1987 Saves

Notes: Tom was a dominate closer for the Jays in the latter half of the decade. His blazing fastball and imposing 6' 5" frame helped dub him "The Terminator". But looking at that baseball card, maybe "Sloth" would've been a better nickname. Yeesh, he looks like one of the family members from The Burbs.





Willie Hernandez
Detroit Tigers (1984-89)

All-Star: 1984-86
Awards: 1984 AL MVP, 1984 AL Cy Young
Postseason: 1984 WS, 1987 ALCS

Notes: Willie had a solid three-year span with the Tigers from 1984-86. '84 was his best season as he pitched over 140 innings of relief, saved 32 games, struck out 112 batters, and posted a 1.92 ERA. Like Rollie Fingers in 1981, he also won the AL MVP and Cy Young in the same season.







Dan Quisenberry
Kansas City Royals (1980-88)

Nickname: Quiz
All-Star: 1982-84
Rolaids Relief: 1980, 1982-85
Postseason: 1980 WS, 1981 ALDS, 1984 ALCS, 1985 WS
League Leader: Saves 1980, 1982-85

Notes: Quiz was one of the top American League closers of the 1980's. Best known for his submarine-style delivery, Dan was mostly a ground ball pitcher and was extremely effective, leading the league in saves 5 times.







Dave Righetti
New York Yankees (1980-89)

Nickname: Rags
All-Star: 1986, 1987
Awards: 1981 AL Rookie of the Year
Rolaids Relief: 1986, 1987
Postseason: 1981 WS
League Leader: 1986 Saves

Notes: Originally winning the ROY as a starting pitcher, Righetti was eventually converted to a closer to take over for Goose Gossage who went to San Diego. He went on to close for 8 seasons, notching 24 or more saves each time.






Bob Stanley
Boston Red Sox (1980-89)

Nickname: Stanley Steamer
All-Star: 1983
Postseason: 1986 WS, 1988 ALCS

Notes: Hell, I don't even know why Bob is on here. His accolades are lacking compared to the others. But he did have a decent nickname.









Be sure and vote for your choice of AL Relief Pitcher for the TMS All-80's Team. Check out the poll in the left sidebar.

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