Saturday, March 26, 2011

29

It's always cool when a player signs with a former team for a day and then retires, you've no doubt read that Mike Sweeney did this fittingly ending his career in Royal blue. There's several remembering Sweeney posts floating around the blogosphere right now, and rightfully so, but not here because I really don't have anything to add to the one I wrote three years ago. He was always one of my favorite players and just one hell of a hitter, when healthy.

After the news of Sweeney's signing and retirement broke 610's Robert Ford tweeted an interesting question:




The general consensus I believe was that it shouldn't, which I think would be the correct call, sort of. I say sort of because I've always felt that number 29 should have been retired years ago. Before Sweeney it was worn by a guy in the Royals Hall of Fame and who also should be in Cooperstown.

Dan Quisenberry.

Quisenberry, who wore 29 from 1979-1988, wasn't just one of the best pitchers in Royals history he was one of the best pitchers period. His 147 ERA+ ranks 6th all time (minimum 1000 IP), and from 1979 to 1985 he was the top reliever in baseball when he averaged 35 saves and 121 innings a year. He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in five of those years (79, 80, 82, 83, 84) and probably should have won the award in 1983 and 1984 (he finished second both years).

I've long believed Quis was deserving of induction, and that was before an inferior pitcher from the same era got the call in 2006. I don't care for the "if player A is in then so should player B" argument but the voters messed up so badly I don't mind applying it here. The year Quis was removed from the ballot with only 3.8% Sutter received 29.1%. The two are an easy comparison because they not only pitched at the same time but they also threw nearly identical innings.

Player ERA+ IP G W L SV BB SO ERA
Dan Quisenberry 147 1043.1 674 56 46 244 162 379 2.76
Bruce Sutter 136 1042.0 661 68 71 300 309 861 2.83
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

But back to retiring number 29, it's too late honor to Quis with that distinction now that another soon to be Royals HoFer wore it too, which is a shame. And really I suppose I can't be too harsh on HoF voters for undervaluing his career when the Royals were guilty of the same offense, at least in my opinion. 

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