Greatest Relief Seasons: Dennis Eckersley 1990

Greatest Relief Seasons: Dennis Eckersley 1990


Eck had a string of 5 seasons that were probably the best 5-year stretch that any relief pitcher has ever had. Between 1988 and 1992 Eckerley was unhittable. His A’s were a powerhouse and he anchored a great pen. There may be some debate as to his greatest year. Eck won the Cy Young in 1992 by gaining 75% of the vote as well as the MVP. However, his 1990 season was one for the ages.

His Line

His Highlights
Yes, that is not a typo, he had an ERA of 0.61! That is only 5 earned runs! He had a WHIP of 0.614! If a pitcher has a WHIP and ERA as the same number he is a superstud. Yes he had almost a 20:1 K to BB ratio! And believe it or not Eck finished 6th in Cy Young voting. Teammate Bob Welch took the honour with a 27 win performance and many other pitchers had great seasons. Eck wasn’t even the releiver to gain the most votes as Bobby Thigpen had 57 saves that season. His save conversion rate was great as great as he blew only two saves. One of those he was charged with the loss and 4 UER.

Impact on his Team
The A’s were by far the best regular season club in the majors in 1990 and Eckersley was a big part of that success. His dominance gave his starters confidence that they only had to get through 6 innings and he, Gene Nelson and Rick Honeycutt were a lock in the final stanza of a game. Eckersley will be remembered just as much as the Bash Brothers when it comes to the A’s of the late 80s and early 90s. Any one of the seasons Eck pitched in Oakland could be Cy Young calibre. If there is a fault to Eck it came in the playoffs. He was tagged with a loss in his only meaningful appearance in the 1990 Series. He did shut the door in the ALCS vs Boston, getting credit for 2 saves.

Eckersley was in his mid 30s during his stink with his hometown Athletics. He was a converted starter who had bottomed out with a now widely known battle with alcholism. When he retired Eck was the only man to win 20 games in a season, save 50 in a season and throw a no-hitter. He had a disticntive side-arm delievery which was popular in the 1980’s. He was an all-star as a starter and as a closer he pitched until he was 43 and was still effective. Agian, his one fault was he was not lights out in big games. In the 1990 WS he lost game 2 in extra innings putting the A’s down 2-0 and setting the stage for a sweep. In 1988 he will be remembered for giving up Kirk Gibson’s walk off game one homer and in game 4 of the 1992 ALCS he blew a save putting the A’s behind 3-1 to the Blue Jays and eventually lost out.

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12 replies on “Greatest Relief Seasons: Dennis Eckersley 1990”
  1. Pingback: baseball » Greatest Relief Seasons: Dennis Eckersley 1990
  2. says: Kman

    Dig the Photo. If I recall, doesn’t this season correspond with the rise of the baseball card. For some reason I have a picture of Bob Welch holding an apple on a card and a series of cards showcasing that years no-hitter craze.

    Can’t argue with a comical 0.614 WHIP. Those are video game numbers he posted.

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  4. says: Early

    I feel you need someone to teach these oddball pitches, submarine, knucleball. And in college and minors I don’t think anyone would take someone and rearrange their mechanic and turn them into a knucker or sidearmer they just send them to a doctor for surgery if it isn’t working out..

  5. says: Callum

    But noone seems to start off doing it. Saberhagen was a sidearmer, Duane Ward was somewhat one, Tekulve, Quisenberry, Eichorn, Henke changed arm angles on a consistent basis, Reardon too if I am not mistaken. Hell, there was almost a sidearmer per team in the 80’s. These were all effective pitchers as well so I am flummoxed as to why it waned to the point where Chard Bradford and that guy from the Twins (neshek?) are the only guys I can think of.

  6. says: Kman

    And the thing about players like Neshek & Bradford is that they were almost afterthoughts. Bradford was a 13th round pick & Neshek went in the 6th. Both were more “wait and see” type picks rather than highly thought of prospects. The organizations probably figured “what the hell, we don’t have much to lose with these picks anyways.” If either one of these guys were taken with the first two rounds I would pretty much guarantee that they’d have their mechanics tinkered with along the way to the majors.

  7. says: Callum

    I remember when daperman threw a submarine pitch at me when we were young and I was pumped because I thought it was a “magic” pitch like the gyro ball. And maybe it was…

  8. says: daperman

    Daperman had a torn rotator then. That method of throwing came from watching outfielders in the late ’70’s early 80’s make basket catches and then sling shop their throws back to the infield. Rick Bosetti was my inspiration. Where are basket catches now??

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