Brad Lidge Deserves More Credit
Perfection is next to impossible in baseball, a sport in which the best players fail two out three times.
However, Philadelphia Phillies' closer Brad Lidge was able to accomplish the feat bringing with it a championship to a city that has been marked with failure and starved for a winner.
Lidge converted all 41 of his save opportunities in the regular season before going 7-for-7 in the playoffs.
That tied Robb Nen for most saves by a National League pitcher in a single postseason. Nen accomplished the feat with the San Fransisco Giants in 2002.
Yet, Lidge has not begun to really gain the recognition he deserves.
Sure there are other closers who have had perfect seasons. Most recently Eric Gagne, then of the Los Angeles Dodgers, went 55 for 55 in 2003 on his way to the Cy Young award. However, that year the Dodgers finished 15.5 games out of the division and nine games out of the wild card. It was hardly a pressure packed season.
What makes Lidge's season so special is that he accomplished perfection while pitching in the middle of a division race that virtually lasted all season between the Mets and even the Marlins.
To put it into perspective, the top five closers of this past year in terms of amount of saves were, from top to bottom, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, Joakim Soria, Lidge, and Jonathan Papelbon. Rodriguez and Valverde each blew seven saves, Soria blew three, and Papelbon blew five.
Mariano Rivera, arguably the greatest closer of all time, has never gone a season without blowing a save. In fact, with the exception of the 2008 season, Rivera has blown at least three saves a season and he's been in a playoff hunt his entire career.
Lidge has certainly come a long way since Albert Pujols' demoralizing home run in game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series. And don't forget that Lidge was removed from the closer role last year with the Houston Astros due to his eight blown saves in just 27 chances. Comeback player of the year, anybody?
Fittingly Lidge recorded the final out of the World Series with a strikeout.
48 total saves and a World Championship in a city famous for sports heartbreaks and ruthless fans. Not too bad for a guy who's career was thought to be over just a year ago.
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