Wild Brian Wilson: The San Francisco Giants' Next Robb Nen?
We Giants fans have seen a number of wild, yet successful, closers in the past 20 years.
With Rod Beck's curly locks flowing from behind his head in a mullet-type of hair style, he gathered 199 saves in his seven years as a Giant, becoming the greatest closer in the franchise's history and an instant fan favorite.
Shortly after, a man took that honor from Beck when he played for the Giants from 1998 to 2002, raising the bar and putting up 206 saves in a Giants uniform. That man goes by the name of Robb Nen.
A three-time All-Star and NL Cy Young nominee, he shut down his opponent with his wacky delivery and intimidating walk-up music. Now, after a few failed closers since 2002 (I'm pointing at you Armando Benitez), we have finally witnessed a closer with the right mentality and potential to match, or possibly exceed Robb Nen's legacy he left behind.
Brian Wilson is the crazy, charismatic, wild, and somehow perfect closer the Giants have been looking for.
With his tattoos breaking out below his sleeves, mohawk/mullet poking out from the back of his head, and the ball leaving his hand at 100 mph, it's hard not to become a fan. His first full year as the Giants' young closer, he posted a respectable 41-save season with a 4.62 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 62.1 innings.
The next season, he performed even better, lowering his ERA down to 2.74, raising his strikeouts to 82 in 72 innings of work, and still saving 38 games, earning himself his first All-star appearance.
So far this season, he has improved even more from previous years, putting up All-Star numbers again, not even halfway through the season. He already has 20 saves and only two blown saves so far, with a 2.05 ERA and 42 strikeouts in only 30.2 innings on the mound.
That's impressive. In fact, it's so impressive, he currently sits in second place in saves in the entire league, as well as fourth in strikeouts and seventh in ERA of all closers. Match those numbers with his appearance and personality on and off the field, and this guy was a lock to become a fan favorite.
Now that he has put in almost two-and-a-half strong seasons as the Giants closer, with 99 saves in that span, can he continue to keep that wild mentality it takes to be an effective closer?
I sure think so, and if he sticks around for a few more seasons, he can almost certainly surpass Rob Nen's franchise save record.
Keep up the good work, Brian—and, most importantly, stay crazy.
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