In 1990, Oakland relief ace Dennis Eckersley had 48 saves and allowed only 45 base runners.
*factoid courtesy of ‘Armchair Reader – Grand Slam Baseball’
My take – If more of today’s top relief pitchers were able to perform at this level, I would certainly value the role of the ‘closer’ quite a bit more. Until then, I will say that the relievers of the 1980’s were better than the group in today’s game. And I would go further to say that in baseball in the 2000’s it is much more valuable to have a solid middle reliever than a solid closer on your team.