Hall Of Fame Debate: Lee Smith VS Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage
As I continue to formulate more of these player versus player match-ups for my ‘Hall Of Fame Debate’, I am really trying to dig deeper into the numbers than I normally do.
So far, what I am finding is that some of the guys I am debating about have numbers that are on par, and sometimes better than, other former players that are in the Hall of Fame.
One such player is Lee Smith. Smith is a curious case – a true closer with a ton of saves. Yet, he has never really garnered the attention needed to be a serious contender for the Hall. Personally, I have no doubt that he belongs – and hopefully someday, even if it is via the Veteran’s Committee vote, he gets in.
Smith’s numbers are unreal – he was truly a player before his time. When I say that, I mean that he was a true relief pitcher; not a player that was eventually was sent to the bullpen to help close games. From the get-go, Smith’s role was to seal victories.
Guys like Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage, (all HOFers) have a good handful of starts between them. Smith has six. Yes, six.
For this week’s debate, I would like to compare Smith’s career to that of Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage’s.
Here are the numbers:
|Seasons as closer
|30+ Save Seasons
|40+ Save Seasons
|K’s per 9 innings
|World Series Titles
My takeaways from these stats:
- Gossage’s win % is ten points higher than Smith’s
- Smith has 168 more saves in four less seasons
- Gossage worked 520 more innings than Smith
- Amazing how close the ERA numbers are
- Gossage has 250 more K’s but also 246 more walks
- Smith’s 2.57 K:Walk ratio is much higher than Goose’s 2.05
- Smith is a full 1.0 K per 9 innings above Gossage
For me, I just don’t see much of a difference.
Actually, there is one major difference – SAVES!!!
I should have mentioned that Smith has 11 seasons between 30-39 saves to Gossage’s 2. And Smith eclipsed the 40-saves mark 4 times while Gossage never topped 33. And to me, that is very telling.
As a matter of fact, when I look at all of the numbers, the tally of saves is enough to tell me that Smith is at the very least on-par with Gossage, if not better. Sure, they played on different teams and had different pitching staffs and offenses to help make the save an option or not an option, but Smith sure did make the best of his situation, didn’t he?
And the extra strikeout per nine innings is worth mentioning too. Especially, when these guys were facing less than 6 batters a game.
For me, I have no doubt that Lee Arthur Smith belongs in the Hall of Fame. And no offense to Rich Gossage (as I am a fan of his as well) but Smith just very may well be a more elite relief pitcher than anyone in the Hall of Fame not named Eckersley.
What do you think? Where does your vote lie between these two relievers? Who gets your vote?? Let me hear it!!