Intro
I’ve been thinking a lot about closers lately. There are two primary reasons, which reminded me of a third.
1) The Atlanta Closers
In my recent interview with Greg Gajus, Greg made a reference at least a couple of times about how, when he was living and working in Atlanta, it made a lasting impression on him that during the Braves’ remarkable run of success in the 1990’s through the mid 2000’s, they seemed to run through a lot of closers. During that span (19912005), the Braves finished in first place 14 out of 15 years, but they ran through 9 closers, beginning with Juan Berenguer at the beginning of the era and ending with Chris Reitsma at the end, with lots of turnover in between.
2) My Fantasy Baseball Auction
I recently participated in my fantasy baseball league’s annual player auction. If you have played fantasy baseball, and especially if you have been in a league that uses the auction/bidding format (as opposed to a straight draft), there’s a good chance you’ve heard the mantra "don’t pay for saves". In essence, the reasons behind that theory include:
a) Often you can find very good options for saves later in the auction, even after the elite options are gone, and you can often find them at bargain prices.
b) There is a high turnover rate among closers. Quite often, the person that has the job at the beginning of the year will lose his job before the year is over.
On that second point, certainly turnover can occur at any position during the year, but closers seem especially prone to it. Unless you’re a truly established closer with a long track record, it seems that your job is in danger anytime you blow a save or two. A closer’s job is often hanging by a thread, with a willing and able replacement waiting eagerly in the wings.
After thinking about #1 and #2 above, it reminded me of something I first remember thinking about over 20 years ago. In the mid1990’s, after signing with the Reds as a free agent, Jeff Brantley had a pretty nice 3year run, capped by his 1996 season when he led the league with 44 saves. But, early in 1997, he got injured, tried to go for a while, but ultimately his season ended in May.
The Reds had some options to turn to – they had Stan Belinda, who had prior closing experience with other teams. They had a couple of good, young arms in Scott Sullivan and Hector Carrasco.
The Reds instead turned to setup man Jeff Shaw. In most of the early part of his career, he was pretty much a nondescript reliever. By 1997, he was 30 years old, had bounced around a lot, had a career ERA over 4.00, only struck out about 5 (and walked about 3) per 9 innings, although, to be fair, he did have a decent year in 1996.
The Reds named Shaw as the closer. I remember thinking, "they’re giving it to that guy?"
Well, you know what happened next. Shaw immediately led the league with 42 saves, and during his 5year run as a closer for the Reds and Dodgers, he averaged almost 40 saves a year, with a sub3.00 ERA.
Jeff Shaw represented a bit of an epiphany for me. Certainly, there had closers before him who seemed to come out of nowhere, there have been surprise closers since then, and we will continue to see them in the future. But, perhaps because I had just started getting into fantasy baseball around that same time, it really struck me about how possible it was for someone who had previously been thought of as a journeyman reliever to instantly become a star.
"Anyone can Close"
In the movie Ratatouille, the famous phrase throughout was "anyone can cook!" As they explained in the movie, it doesn’t mean that everyone can be a great chef, but a great chef can come from anywhere.
Sometimes it seems like "anyone can close". Now, obviously, that’s not literally true. Not just "anyone" can close. Many pitchers can’t handle the pressure or the spotlight, and nothing generates frustration among players and fans than having a closer surrender the lead and blow a ballgame. But, it sure seems like teams will change closers on a dime and not lose anything in the transition, and, in fact, often come out of it in a better position. There are a lot of pitchers who can excel for an inning or so at a time, if given an opportunity.
This all led me to think about how frequently teams change closers, and some basic questions came to mind, questions such as:
 How many years does a franchise usually keep someone in that role?
 How often do you see a closer that only lasts one season?
 Who are some of baseball’s great vagabond closers, who get opportunity after opportunity with different teams?
 Which franchises have been the most stable, and which ones have been the most volatile?
So, I decided to look into it.
The Approach
I decided to take a 50year snapshot of closers, using the time frame of 19692018. 1969 as a starting point has some significance for a couple of reasons other than it makes for a nice, round 50year span:
1) 1969 was the first season in which saves were recognized as an official statistic. The concept of a save predates that, and of course saves have been applied retroactively, but 1969 was the first year they were considered an official stat.
2) 1969 was the 2^{nd} wave of expansion that happened in the 1960’s, adding 4 new franchises (Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots (later Milwaukee Brewers), Montreal Expos (later Washington Nationals), and San Diego Padres), so this span captures the entire history of those 4 franchises.
So, I went with 1969 as the cutoff.
I then turned to baseballreference.com for a little help. One of the sections on that site lists the annual starters at each position for each franchise during its history. Including, lucky for me, the "closer". Now, "closer" can be a misleading and vague label. Teams don’t always have one, distinct closer. Some have closers by committee. Some have the job bounce around to different pitchers throughout a season. But, rather than microanalyze roughly 1,500 teamseasons, I decided to just go with the pitcher that the site identified as the "closer" for each franchise in each season. I suspect they simply defaulted in most cases to whoever had the most saves, which probably isn’t a bad way to go. In any case, it’s what I used.
I then proceeded to compile for each franchise, since 1969:
 Who was the team’s primary closer each year
 How many years did that person serve that role for that franchise (not necessarily consecutive)
 How often did each franchise make a change from one year to the next in the primary closer
 Which franchises were the most (and least) stable
 Which players had the longest tenures as a team’s closer
Comparison to Other Positions
One of the premises of this review is that the closer role is one of the more volatile ones on a team. I didn’t do a formal, comprehensive review to compare all other positions to closers, but it’s clear that closers tend to change more often (and tend to have fewer long "runs" of being in that role for a team) that do starters at field positions.
I’ll use my Reds as an example. Since 1969, the Reds have had the following players accumulate 5 or more seasons as the primary player at each position (number of seasons as the primary starter are in parenthesis, and these are total seasons as the starter for the franchise, not necessarily consecutive seasons):
C: Johnny Bench (12), Joe Oliver (6), Jason LaRue (5)
1B: Joey Votto (12), Dan Driessen (8), Sean Casey (8), Hal Morris (7), Tony Perez (5)
2B: Brandon Phillips (11), Joe Morgan (8), Ron Oester (8), Bret Boone (5)
3B: Chris Sabo (6), Aaron Boone (5), Tony Perez (5)
SS: Barry Larkin (16), Dave Concepcion (16), Zack Cozart (5)
LF: George Foster (7), Adam Dunn (7)
CF: Cesar Geronimo (7), Eric Davis (6), Ken Griffey Jr. (5), Billy Hamilton (5)
RF: Jay Bruce (8), Ken Griffey Sr. (6), Reggie Sanders (5), Paul O’Neill (5)
That’s 28 players with 5 or more seasons as the primary starter.
You observant folks in the crowd may have noticed that perhaps the most famous Red of all (Pete Rose) doesn’t show up, in part because I’m only counting seasons since 1969, but even if I didn’t cut it off there, he still wouldn’t have qualified at any single position. He moved around the diamond so much, he didn’t reach 5 seasons (for the Reds) at any single position. He had 4 seasons at 2B, 4 at 3B, 4 in LF, and 4 in RF (plus 1 season at 1B). Ironically, the only time he was the starter for 5 years at a position for a franchise was when he started for 5 seasons at 1B for the Phillies.
You also may have observed that Tony Perez had two 5year stints – one at first base, and one at third base. You may have also noticed that the 2 longest tenures on the team were by shortstops, where Concepcion and Larkin were the starters in 32 of the 35 seasons from 19702004, a streak interrupted only by Kurt Stillwell once and Pokey Reese twice. A nice little run of talent at that position for the Reds…..
Starting pitchers are a little trickier because each team has 5 pitchers each year that can be considered "primary" starters, so it’s not quite the same type of thing as being a starter at the other positions, but just for completeness, there were 14 pitchers listed with 5 or more seasons as one of the primary 5 starting pitchers for the Reds since 1969:
Name

Seasons as Starter with the Reds

Tom Browning

9

Jose Rijo

8

Aaron Harang

8

Bronson Arroyo

8

Mario Soto

7

Fred Norman

7

Johnny Cueto

7

Homer Bailey

7

Tom Seaver

6

Mike Leake

6

Jack Billingham

6

John Smiley

5

Frank Pastore

5

Gary Nolan

5

In summary, there have been 28 position players who were the primary starter for the Reds for 5 or more seasons since 1969, and if you include starting pitchers, it jumps to 42.
So, how many pitchers have been the primary closer for the Reds for 5 or more seasons?
One. That’s it. One.
Danny Graves has been the only Reds closer to serve in that role for 5 seasons (and his were not consecutive, as the team tried him as a starter in 2003 after 4 years of closing. It failed miserably, and he returned to closing the next year)
Here’s the full listing of Reds’ closers over the past 50 seasons, along with the number of seasons in that role:
Name

# of Seasons as Reds’ Primary Closer

Danny Graves

5

Tom Hume

4

John Franco

4

Francisco Cordero

4

Aroldis Chapman

4

Clay Carroll

3

Jeff Brantley

3

David Weathers

3

Wayne Granger

2

Rawly Eastwick

2

Jeff Shaw

2

Raisel Iglesias (through 2018)

2

Rob Dibble

2

Pedro Borbon

2

Ted Power

2

Scott Williamson

1

Randy Myers

1

Doug Bair

1

Bill Scherrer

1

Norm Charlton

1

Tony Cingrani

1

Here’s the same list, this time in reverse chronological order, with yellow highlights to show each time the team had a different closer than the year before:
Year

Name

2018

Iglesias

2017

Iglesias

2016

Cingrani

2015

Chapman

2014

Chapman

2013

Chapman

2012

Chapman

2011

Cordero

2010

Cordero

2009

Cordero

2008

Cordero

2007

Weathers

2006

Weathers

2005

Weathers

2004

Graves

2003

Williamson

2002

Graves

2001

Graves

2000

Graves

1999

Graves

1998

Shaw

1997

Shaw

1996

Brantley

1995

Brantley

1994

Brantley

1993

Dibble

1992

Charlton

1991

Dibble

1990

Myers

1989

Franco

1988

Franco

1987

Franco

1986

Franco

1985

Power

1984

Power

1983

Scherrer

1982

Hume

1981

Hume

1980

Hume

1979

Hume

1978

Bair

1977

Borbon

1976

Eastwick

1975

Eastwick

1974

Borbon

1973

Carroll

1972

Carroll

1971

Carroll

1970

Granger

1969

Granger

1968

Carroll

That seems like a lot of changing. 21 different closers over 50 seasons, an average of only 2.4 seasons for each closer, and no one with more than 5. And, in fact, they actually changed closers 24 times, because there were 3 instances (Graves, Borbon, and Dibble) of pitchers who were designated by the site as the primary closer, only to "lose" the label one season, and then came back in a subsequent season to reclaim the "title". So, in essence, the Reds had 24 seasons out of 50 where the primary closer was different than the year before, just about once every 2 years.
Now, are the Reds a particularly volatile franchise for closers? Actually, no. In fact, depending on how you define it, the Reds have actually been one of the more stable franchises in this regard.
As one examines other franchises, I think the conclusion is clear. Closing is a volatile role.
A Full Review
OK. On to the results……
A few basic data points:
 The data since 1969 for all 30 franchises represents 1,377 teamseasons, which averages to about 46 seasons per franchise (most teams have 50 seasons during the time frame examined, but the newer expansion teams of course have fewer).
 In those seasons, there were 757 instances where a team ended up with a different closer than the previous season. The change may have been the result of ineffectiveness, injury, trade, free agency, or any other number of reasons.
 That means that in 55% of the teamseasons examined, a team’s closer was different than the year before.
 There were 702 "unique" closers.
In this context, "unique" refers to the different number of pitchers that a team used in that role. For example, even though the Reds changed closers 24 times, there were only 21 different pitchers that filled that role, as 3 of them had lost the designation only to reclaim it later.
If a pitcher filled the role for more than 1 team, he is counted once for each franchise. For example, Rollie Fingers was the closer for the A’s, Padres, and Brewers, so he counts 3 times (once for each franchise).
 The average number of seasons that each unique closer held the job was just under 2.0 (1.96, to be exact).
So, that data answers 2 basic questions from slightly different angles. An average closer only ends up with about 2 seasons in that role for a franchise (sometimes the seasons are nonconsecutive). And, related to that, teams change closers in a little over half of the seasons.
Here’s a look at the distribution of the 702 unique closers by how many years they were in that role for a single franchise, along with a few names that correspond to each group (at least for the first few groups):
Years as Closer for a Franchise

Number of Pitchers

% of Total

Member(s) of this Group

16

1

0.1%

Mariano RiveraYankees

14

1

0.1%

Trevor HoffmanPadres

10

1

0.1%

Jeff MontgomeryRoyals

9

1

0.1%

Troy PercivalAngels

8

4

0.6%

Dennis EckersleyA’s
John FrancoMets
Dan QuisenberryRoyals
Rick AguileraTwins

7

8

1.1%

Dave RighettiYankees
Rollie FingersA's
Lee SmithCubs
Kenley JansenDodgers (active)
Tom HenkeBlue Jays
Mike HennemanTigers
Todd JonesTigers
Dave SmithAstros

6

10

1.4%

Billy WagnerAstros
Jason IsringhausenCardinals
Rod BeckGiants
Tippy MartinezOrioles
Dave GiustiPirates
Kent TekulvePirates
Jonathan PapelbonRed Sox
Joe NathanTwins
Bobby ThigpenWhite Sox
Goose GossageYankees

5

18

2.6%


4

43

6.1%


3

79

11.3%


2

145

20.7%


1

391

55.7%


Total

702

100.0%


I think a lot of fans would have guessed that the 2 longest tenures belonged to Rivera with the Yankees and Hoffman with the Padres. I’m not sure how many others might have guessed that Montgomery is only the third pitcher with 10 or more years as a franchise’s closer.
So, more than half the time a closer only lasts a single season for a franchise. And, nearly 88% of the time, a closer’s reign is for 3 seasons or less. A reign of more than 5 seasons happens less than 4% of the time.
The Vagabond Closers
I was also interested in which pitchers found closing gigs with the greatest number of different franchises. These 13 pitchers had 1 or more seasons closing with 4 or more different franchises, led by Fernando Rodney and Randy Myers with 6 each.
Pitcher

Franchises Closed For

Team

Team

Team

Team

Team

Team

Fernando Rodney

6

Diamondbacks

Mariners

Padres

Rays

Tigers

Twins

Randy Myers

6

Blue Jays

Cubs

Mets

Orioles

Padres

Reds

Lee Smith

5

Angels

Cardinals

Cubs

Orioles

Red Sox


Goose Gossage

5

Cubs

Padres

Pirates

White Sox

Yankees


Ugueth Urbina

4

Expos

Rangers

Red Sox

Tigers



Huston Street

4

Angels

A's

Padres

Rockies



Rafael Soriano

4

Braves

Nationals

Rays

Yankees



Joakim Soria

4

Rangers

Royals

Tigers

White Sox



Jose Mesa

4

Indians

Mariners

Phillies

Pirates



Doug Jones

4

Astros

Indians

Orioles

Phillies



Kevin Gregg

4

Blue Jays

Cubs

Marlins

Orioles



Tom Gordon

4

Cubs

Phillies

Red Sox

White Sox



Armando Benitez

4

Giants

Marlins

Mets

Orioles



As you can see, there’s a real mixed bag there. You have 2 Hall of Famers (Smith and Gossage), but you also have some lesser lights like Kevin Gregg, who was by no means a great pitcher (career ERA 4.24, ERA+ of 102, walked over 4 per 9 innings). Gregg’s lowest ERA in a full season was 3.41. Yet, 4 different teams gave him the opportunity to close. Jose Mesa (a.k.a. "Joe Table") was another one…..he had a 4.36 career ERA (100 ERA+), although Mesa did legitimately have a few good years, including his incredible 1995 season (46 saves, 1.13 ERA).
And, of course, there are the two 6timers above: Fernando Rodney, who seems to alternate between brilliant and awful in his roller coaster career, and Randy Myers. Both of these players squeezed their 6 closer gigs within a 10year period (19891998 for Myers, 20092018 for Rodney).
By the way, the Cubs and the Orioles are each represented 5 times in the table above. Not sure what to make of it…..but just an observation.
Franchise Stability
Which franchises were the most stable at closer, and which were the most volatile?
As you may have guessed, the Yankees have been the most stable franchise. Rivera is a big reason why, of course, but the Yankees have also had long runs by Dave Righetti (7 years), Goose Gossage (6), and Sparky Lyle (5). In the 50 year span of the study, the Yankees are the only franchise to have 4 pitchers with 5 or more seasons as the closer. With Rivera’s 16 seasons, those 4 pitchers have been closer for 34 of the last 50 seasons (68%)
That’s one way to look at stability. Here’s another.
This summarizes the % of seasons from 19692018 in which a team made a change from the prior season, so that the teams at the top made changes the least often (average is about 56%). I’m also going to include the longest tenured reliever for each team during this time frame
Team

% of Years Made Change at Closer

Longest Tenured Closer

# of Years

Yankees

32.0%

Mariano Rivera

16

Dodgers

38.0%

Kenley Jansen

7

Royals

40.8%

Jeff Montgomery

10

Mets

44.0%

John Franco

8

Giants

46.0%

Rod Bech

6

Padres

46.9%

Trevor Hoffman

14

Cardinals

48.0%

Jason Isringhausen

6

Reds

48.0%

Danny Graves

5

Twins

50.0%

Rick Aguilera

8

Pirates

50.0%

Dave Giust, Kent Tekulve

6

Astros

52.0%

Dave Smith

7

White Sox

54.0%

Bobby Thigpen

6

A's

54.0%

Dennis Eckersley

8

Indians

56.0%

Bob Wickman, Cody Allen

5

Angels

56.0%

Troy Percival

9

Marlins

57.7%

Robb Nen

4

Cubs

58.0%

Lee Smith

7

Orioles

58.0%

Tippy Martinez

6

Nationals/Expos

58.0%

Jeff Reardon

5

Brewers

59.2%

Rollie Fingers, Dan Plesac

4

Red Sox

60.0%

Jonathan Papelbon

6

Mariners

61.9%

Mike Schooler

4

Tigers

64.0%

Mike Henneman, Todd Jones

7

Rockies

65.4%

Jose Jimenez, Brian Fuentes

4

Phillies

66.0%

Jonathan Papelbon, Tug McGraw

4

Braves

66.0%

Craig Kimbrel, Gene Garber

4

Rays

71.4%

Roberto Hernandez

3

Diamondbacks

71.4%

Matt Mantei, Jose Valverde

3

Blue Jays

71.4%

Tom Henke

7

Rangers

76.0%

Jeff Russell, John Wetteland

4

And here’s another slightly different way to look at it, although the lists are pretty similar in terms of which teams are at the top and which are at the bottom. This is the average # of years each "unique" (or "distinct") closer served for each franchise (average is about 2.0 years). In the 50 seasons reviewed, the Yankees have had only 14 distinct closers:
Team

Avg. # of Seasons Closing for Each Distinct Closer

Yankees

3.6

Royals

2.7

Dodgers

2.6

Reds

2.4

Mets

2.4

Astros

2.3

Padres

2.2

Giants

2.2

Twins

2.2

Pirates

2.1

A's

2.0

Cardinals

2.0

Tigers

1.9

White Sox

1.9

Indians

1.9

Brewers

1.9

Cubs

1.9

Red Sox

1.9

Nationals/Expos

1.9

Angels

1.9

Orioles

1.9

Mariners

1.8

Rockies

1.7

Marlins

1.7

Phillies

1.7

Braves

1.7

Blue Jays

1.6

Diamondbacks

1.5

Rays

1.4

Rangers

1.4

One more – this is the % of seasons represented by closers who only served one season as the primary closer. Teams with a low % rarely used a closer for only a single season (of course, the quality often has something to do with that tendency). By this measure, the Reds tied the Yankees at the top of the list – they each had only 6 pitchers who had a 1year tenure at closer.
Team

% of Years Represented by 1Year Closers

Yankees

12.0%

Reds

12.0%

Dodgers

14.0%

Mets

16.0%

Royals

16.3%

Mariners

21.4%

Twins

22.0%

Astros

24.0%

Pirates

24.0%

Cardinals

26.0%

Giants

26.0%

Orioles

26.0%

Brewers

26.5%

Indians

28.0%

Nationals/Expos

28.0%

Padres

28.6%

White Sox

30.0%

Red Sox

32.0%

A's

32.0%

Angels

32.0%

Phillies

34.0%

Cubs

34.0%

Rockies

34.6%

Marlins

34.6%

Braves

36.0%

Tigers

38.0%

Diamondbacks

42.9%

Rays

47.6%

Blue Jays

47.6%

Rangers

54.0%

Considering those 3 measures together, I would rate the most stable closer franchises as:
1. Yankees
2. Dodgers
3. Royals
4. Mets
5. Reds
I outlined the Yankees’ top closers earlier. The Dodgers are led by Kenley Jansen (7 seasons, not including 2019), Jim Brewer and Jay Howell (5 each), and Steve Howe, Todd Worrell, and Jeff Shaw with 4 seasons each.
The Royals are led by Jeff Montgomery (10) and Dan Quisenberry (8), who ruled the Royals bullpen in 18 of the 20 seasons between 1980 and 1999 (Steve Farr in 1988 and 1989 was the closer in the other 2 seasons). The Royals also had Joakin Soria with a 5year run and Doug Bird with 4 seasons (nonconsecutive).
The least stable would be the following franchises:
30. Rangers
29. Blue Jays
28. Rays
27. Diamondbacks
26. Braves
The longest tenured Rangers closers have been Jeff Russell and John Wetteland with 4 seasons each, but the franchise had a whopping 27 seasons out of 50 where they featured a closer who only recorded a single season in that role for the team. They were basically at the bottom of every metric I looked at for this review.
The Case of the Braves
So, what about Mr. Gajus’ example of the Braves that I mentioned at the beginning? Well, by the metrics we looked at earlier, they certainly do rate as one of the more volatile franchises for closers over the last halfcentury. Since 1969, the Braves have not had a single pitcher register 5 or more seasons as the closer. Craig Kimbrel had 4 (in a row), and Gene Garber had 4 (not in a row).
Garber’s status as a close was a real rollercoaster – he came over from the Phillies and was the closer for the Braves for 2 years, then he lost his role to Rick Camp for a couple of seasons, got it back for a year, lost it again for 3 seasons to Steve Bedrosian, Donnie Moore, and Bruce Sutter, respectively, and then reclaimed it again for a fourth season.
In total, the Braves have had 30 different pitchers in the role of closer, a number topped only by the Rangers (36) over this span.
Here is the Braves’ full listing since 1969, starting with 2018 and going backwards:
Year

Closer

2018

Vizcaino

2017

Johnson

2016

Johnson

2015

Grilli

2014

Kimbrel

2013

Kimbrel

2012

Kimbrel

2011

Kimbrel

2010

Wagner

2009

Soriano

2008

Gonzalez

2007

Wickman

2006

Wickman

2005

Reitsma

2004

Smoltz

2003

Smoltz

2002

Smoltz

2001

Rocker

2000

Rocker

1999

Rocker

1998

Ligtenberg

1997

Wohlers

1996

Wohlers

1995

Wohlers

1994

McMichael

1993

Stanton

1992

Pena

1991

Berenguer

1990

Boever

1989

Boever

1988

Sutter

1987

Acker

1986

Garber

1985

Sutter

1984

Moore

1983

Bedrosian

1982

Garber

1981

Camp

1980

Camp

1979

Garber

1978

Garber

1977

Campbell

1976

Devine

1975

House

1974

House

1973

Frisella

1972

Upshaw

1971

Upshaw

1970

Wilhelm

1969

Upshaw

During their amazing streak of success from 19912005, when the Braves finished in 1^{st} place every season except for the strikeshortened season of 1994, the best closer they had was probably Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who was reluctantly repurposed from the starting rotation after elbow surgery cost him the 2000 season, and he thrived in that role for a little over 3 seasons before returning successfully to the rotation.
The Braves’ run of success starting in 1991 began with 4 different singleyear "closers" – Juan Bereguer, Alejandro Pena, Mike Stanton, and Greg McMichael.
Perhaps the pitchers who best epitomized the Braves’ bullpen narrative in this stretch were Mark Wohlers (19951997) and John Rocker (19992001). Both of them had some success, and they both had a strong ability to strike batters out, and each managed to be in that role for 3 years, but both were ultimately undone by severe control issues. Wohlers has been labeled as one of the more famous examples of "Steve Blass Disease" (a sudden and inexplicable loss of the ability to throw with any control). Rocker, of course, in addition to his wildness on the mound, was also undermined by making controversial statements that didn’t help his situation either. In the middle of those 2, there was also the case of Kerry Ligtenberg, who saved 30 games as a rookie in 1998 (finishing 4^{th} in the Rookie of the Year voting in a strong class, behind Kerry Wood, Todd Helton, and Travis Lee). Ligtenberg missed the entire 1999 season, and when he returned, he wasn’t bad, but Rocker had taken over his role.
Wrapping it Up
A few other observations from the data……
 Todd Jones had 2 separate significant runs with the Tigers – he was the closer from 19972000, and then bounced around to 6 other franchises before returning to the Tigers to close again from 20062008.
In fact, the Tigers were a bit of a paradox, in that they had several closers with 4 or more seasons as the closer (Mike Henneman7, Todd Jones 7, John Hiller5, and Willie Hernandez4), but all four of those pitchers had "split runs" where they lost the title at some point only to reclaim it later. This all contributed to the Tigers being among the teams that changed closers the most often.
 Rollie Fingers had 3 gigs of 4 years or more – A’s (7), Padres (4), and Brewers (4).
 Several wellknown closers had 2 gigs of 4 years or more:
 John Franco – Mets (8), Reds (4)
 Robb Nen – Giants (5), Marlins (4)
 Jonathan Papelbon – Red Sox (6), Phillies (4)
 Lee Smith – Cubs (7), Cardinals (4)
 Bruce Sutter – Cubs (5), Cardinals (4)
 Todd Worrell – Cardinals (4), Dodgers (4)
 Huston Street had 4 gigs of 3 seasons – A’s, Rockies, Padres, and Angels.
 Jeff Reardon had 3 gigs of 3 years or more – Expos (5), Red Sox (3), and Twins (3).
 For the first 10 years of their existence (19771986), the Blue Jays changed closers each year, but then they came up with a gem in Tom Henke, who held the job for 7 seasons. After Henke, they proceeded to change closers 18 times in the next 20 seasons, including 11 seasons in a row from 20022012.
 The Rangers had a span of 16 seasons (19761991) where they changed closers from the previous year 15 times.
Hope you enjoyed reading.
Dan