We were reading Mark Newman’s discussion of MLB’s 2017 relievers of the year and we came across this:
Kimbrel led Major League relievers in strikeouts per nine (16.43) and WHIP (0.68), and tied for first in strikeouts (126). That whiff total was the most by a Boston reliever since Dick Radatz struck out 183 in 1964.
Dick Radatz was The Monster (or Monsta in New England) because he was 6’6″, 230, and had a sidearm fastball that completely terrorized right-handed hitters. From 1962 through 1964 he had three of the best years by a reliever. His burnout is also exhibit A of why we treat relievers differently now. He was 40 and 21 with 76 saves while pitching over 400 innings during that period. The Red Sox were eighth, seventh, and eighth (out of ten) in those three years. The Red Sox won 224 games and the the Monsta won or saved 116 of those or 52 percent. Kimbrel will likely be the AL Reliever of the year for winning or saving 43 percent of the Red Sox games. Some time around the All-Star break next season in his third season with the Red Sox Kimbrel will pitch as many innings for the Red Sox as The Monsta did in 1964. Radatz had three great years but the abuse of pitching double to triple the innings that closers do now caught up with even a Monsta.
Manager Johnny Pesky’s abuse of the Monsta in “64 led to him being less effective in ’65 and the Red Sox lost 100 games. Kimbrel’s line of 1.43 ERA, 67 games, 51 games finished, 35 saves and five wins looks similar to the Monster’s 1964 season of 2.29, 79, 57, 24, 29 and 15 wins. The difference is that the latter pitched 157 innings while the former pitched just 69. There is much discussion about how to use closers but Radatz was over used, especially in 1964.