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Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.



Posted by Mike on Saturday, April 03, 2004

Different Face, Same Results

Billy Wagner had been a fixture in Houston since he first broke into major leagues in 1995. He's in Philadelphia this year closing for the creatively named Phillies. This means Octavio Dotel is finally being given his well earned place as the Astro's closer. Over the last three years he has been nearly spotless.


Dotel
.........IP......W/L.....S.....ERA.....K/9IP.....Opp.Avg
2001....105.0....7-5.....2.....2.66....12.43.......205
2002.....97.1....6-4.....6.....1.85....10.91.......173
2003.....87.0....6-4.....4.....2.48....10.03.......172
--------------------------------------------------------
Career..499.2...30-23....28....3.62....10.57.......213


These aren't the kind of numbers that the average reliever can put together. They are something special. To some degree the Mets must regret trading Dotel away before the 2000 season as part of the Mike Hampton deal. Hampton was invaluable as he lead the Mets to the World Series, but you have to think that today the Mets wish that Dotel were still on the roster.

Wagner has always been a great pitcher. He's been one of the best closers for the last decade. John Smoltz and Eric Gagne are equally as amazing today but they can't yet match the longevity in the closer's role that Wagner has established. Billy Wagner is more comparable to old elite, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.


Wagner
.........IP......W/L.....S.....ERA.....K/9IP.....Opp.Avg
2001.....62.2....2-5.....39....2.73....11.35.......198
2002.....75.0....4-2.....35....2.52....10.56.......196
2003.....86.0....1-4.....44....1.78....10.99.......169
--------------------------------------------------------
Career..504.1...26-29....225...2.53....12.39.......186


What really strikes me strongly is the similarity between these two pitchers. Tons of strikeouts and a low opponent's average against combine to help create a low ERAs. So, while the Astros may have lost one of the best closers in the majors, they have had one waiting in the wings to take his place.

How about a comparison between Dotel and Hoffman? Surely Dotel can't be as effective today as Hoffman was during his three best consecutive season, 1997-1999?


Hoffman
.........IP......W/L.....S.....ERA.....K/9IP.....Opp.Avg
1997.....81.1....6-4.....37....2.66....12.28.......200
1998.....73.0....4-3.....53....1.48....10.60.......165
1999.....67.1....2-3.....40....2.14.....9.76.......197
--------------------------------------------------------
Career..710.0...45-44....352...2.78....10.24.......205


If saves aren't accounted for then Dotel was almost better the last three years than Hoffman was during his best three years. Trevor Hoffman has often been regarded as one of the best relievers in the history of the game. The Astros have a guy who has been out of the spotlight but has been producing seasons relatively equal to those that Hoffman produced during his prime. Now is Dotel's chance. This season could be the beginning of very bright future for him.


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