Steve Bedrosian 1994 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 20, 2017


There is an amazing contradiction in baseball in terms of analysis.

Much of how we judge the greatness and worth of a player are based upon numbers. These numbers are not subjective. They are hard fast. They are a record of what the player did and how they played.

Art, music and movies can be subjective. I can love El Greco, Talking Heads and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Someone else can hate them. It is a matter of opinion and taste.

But there is no debating the back of a baseball card. Those are numbers. They are data.

Ahhhh. But there lies the contradiction. The numbers may not change, but the value we give one number over another is in a constant state of evolution.

Take Steve Bedrosian. He was a fine relief pitcher. He was an All Star. He threw the clinching pitch of the 1989 NLCS. He won a World Series ring with the 1991 Minnesota Twins. He pitched 14 seasons in the majors and became a millionaire along the way.

Nothing to complain about here. May we all have a career like Steve Bedrosian.

He won a Cy Young Award.

THAT is what I find bizarre. Juan Marichal never won a Cy Young Award. Curt Schilling never did. Neither did Bert Blyleven.

Neither did Nolan Ryan.

But Steve Bedrosian did. Now I have nothing against a relief pitcher winning the Cy Young. I know some people will never give one to someone who isn’t in the rotation. I am not hung up on that.

Nor am I going to throw a lot of fancy Sabermetrics at you to untangle. I was against Steve Bedrosian winning the 1987 Cy Young Award back in 1987.

The Methuen Massachusetts native found himself on the Phillies when they were in that post “winning titles” but pre “truly terrible” neutral zone of the mid to late 1980’s. They still had Mike Schmidt winning the MVP and lots of stars on the team, they just weren’t as good as the Mets or the Cardinals.

After being a part time closer in Atlanta, “Bedrock” had the job full time in Philadelphia when he arrived in 1986. He did a good job and kept the gig the next year. He stumbled badly out of the gate in 1987.

By April 18, he had blown 2 saves and his ERA was 11.05. He finished April with a 7.84 ERA and one single save. I don’t know what the odds were, but I am pretty positive he was a long shot to win the Cy Young at that point.

He had a solid May, allowing 2 earned runs over 17 1/3 innings and in June and July, he posted sub 2 ERAs in each month. He made 9 appearances in June and saved all 9.

Bedrosian was hardly dominant in August and September, with ERAs over 3.50 each month. He didn’t pitch badly, but he was hardly eye popping.

In the end he had a fine season for a closer. He saved 40 games while averaging more than 2 innings an appearance. He went 5-3, his ERA was 2.83 and he struck out 74 batters. He had a good year for a team that went nowhere.

Today, that would get you a pat on the back.

In 1987 it got him the f—ing Cy Young Award.

AGAIN! I have NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING against Steve Bedrosian. I hope he has the Cy Young Award placed in a proud spot in his home. But COME ON! Mariano Rivera never won a Cy Young with his game difference dominating performances. Neither did Goose Gossage. But Bedrosian had one for a nice season?

Cy Young voters salivated over the win totals in those days with a trend that I think reached its insane peak with Bartolo Colon winning his Cy Young and started turning with Felix Hernandez.

But saves were also given far too much weight as well. Granted, this was just before Tony LaRussa turned the save into a 3 batter and out situation, forever padding the save total for lucky schmoes who happened to be on the mound at the end of the game.

Even in 1987, this save fixation did not sit well with a 15 year old Sully. They may have not have been a Dwight Gooden or Mike Scott dominating the National League like they had in the past 2 years. But there were some fine performances… like by Dwight Gooden and Mike Scott!

Rick Sutcliffe had 18 wins for the Cubs and finished second in the voting. Rick Reuschel, who put up All Star numbers in Pittsburgh and helped the Giants win the Division, got one fewer first place vote than Bedrosian.

Sabermetricians would argue that LA’s 1-2 punch of Bob Welch and Orel Hershiser were actually the two best pitchers in the NL that year. But no doubt writers could not get past Hershiser’s 16-16 record. And Welch had just 3 points in the vote, had a 15-9 record which wasn’t very sexy.

Remember how I listed those great pitchers who never won a Cy Young. Remember how I listed Nolan Ryan. Back in 1987, I said that Nolan Ryan should win the Cy Young.

A few other outlying writers unknowingly agreed with me. Ryan led the league with a 2.76 ERA. He also struck out 270 batters, tops in the league, over 211 2/3 innings.

I did not even realize he had the best ERA+, best FIP, best hits per 9 inning ratio, the nest strikeout per 9 inning ratio and best strikeout to walk ratio in the National League.

Traditional stats and advanced stats showed the Ryan Express had a great year. So why did he finish a distant 5th? He went 8-16 with a terrible Houston lineup.

In 16 of his starts, he got 2 runs or fewer of support. In those games he posted a 3.03 ETA, striking out 111 batters in 95 innings and posting a 1-13 record.

You read that right. In 13 of Nolan Ryan’s 16 losses, the Astros scored 2 runs or fewer. I knew back in 1987 he was robbed of a Cy Young. He never did win one.

Steve Bedrosian did because writers penalized Ryan for a lack of run support and were enamored with the save.

Today, Bedrosian doesn’t crack the top 10 in the Cy Young vote while Ryan, Welch and Hershiser would battle out for the award.

Numbers didn’t change. Just our value for them do.

But let’s end this on a positive note. Here is Steve Bedrosian after his trade to San Francisco clinching the 1989 pennant for the Giants.

JERRY WILLARD – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 23



OCTOBER 23, 1991 – World Series Game 4

The 1991 World Series looked like it was shaping up to be a thriller. Two teams that finished last the year before faced off. The Twins took the first two games but the Braves avoided any talk of a third straight 4 game sweep by taking a marathon 12 inning third game, the first World Series game ever played in Georgia.

Light hitting second baseman Mark Lemke continued his unlikely October heroics by driving in David Justice with 2 outs in the 12th for a 5-4 walk off win. Both the Twins and the Braves emptied their respective benches. Minnesota had to use reliever Rick Aguilera as a pinch hitter at one point.

If there was a Maytag Repairman for the game, it was Jerry Willard, the lone position player on either team who did not make it into the game.

The 31 year old catcher had bounced around between the Indians, A’s and White Sox along with many many minor league teams before landing with Atlanta in 1991 as their 5th string catcher. But an injury to Mike Heath and Damon Berryhill’s ineligibility for the post season roster opened up a spot for Willard. But save for one pinch hit appearance in the NLCS, he rode the pine.

In Game 4, Jack Morris and John Smoltz dueled but the bullpens were in control by the time the game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 9th.

Once again Lemke shone. With one out he tripled off of Twins reliever Mark Guthrie. After an intentional walk to Jeff Blauser, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox sent up Francisco Cabrera to pinch hit.

When Twins manager Tom Kelly countered with a double switch, bringing in the right handed Steve Bedrosian, Cox sent in Willard to bat for Cabrera (who would hit himself into post season lore with the 1992 Braves.)

Cox told Willard that he would probably be walked to set up a force at every base. But instead Bedrosian, a former Cy Young winning reliever, pitched to him. With the count 1-2, Willard lifted a flyball to shallow right field where it was caught by Shane Mack.

Lemke tagged and came home while Willard, out with the catch, watched from first base. The play was super close and there was contact between Lemke and Minnesota catcher Brian Harper. Lemke was called safe. Willard raised his hands in triumph as the Braves won.

Harper and Bedrosian argued with the umpires, claiming Lemke was out and the game should be going to the 10th. But replays showed that the contact was by Harper’s elbow and not the glove as Lemke slid around the tag.

Over and over they showed the replay with CBS announced Jack Buck and Tim McCarver breaking it down and praising the call by home plate umpire Terry Tata.

It was Lemke who was praised for the second straight night. He drove home the winning run of Game 3 and his slide won Game 4. The shot of Willard raising his arms in triumph was not shown live nor in the first few post games minutes. Willard was barely mentioned.

The Braves would lose Game 7 of the World Series in a heart breaking 1-0 fashion. Willard never appeared in the World Series again. Over the next three years he combined for 27 appearances with Montreal and Seattle before hanging up his spikes with Tacoma in 1995.

Today he works for a high school in southern California where he has fond memories of his playing days but can’t bring himself to watching the tapes of the World Series. His team lost.

But he did his part for Atlanta glory, earning him the title of  Unsung Postseason hero of October 23.

I could not find a quality video of his heroics. Here is a shaky cam YouTube clip of his sacrifice fly.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – April 3, 2014

Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

Jim Johnson flopped badly in his first two Oakland appearances. In order to turn his season the right way, he should emulate Kevin Bacon.

It makes sense if you listen to today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Mark Buehrle, Ian Kinsler, Tim Hudson, Ryan Ludwick, Mike Trout, Jason Vargas,  Emilio Bonifacio and Matt Garza all added to their totals for Who Owns Baseball.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – April 3, 2014

Castle Rock - Sony Pictures

Castle Rock – Sony Pictures