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Gagne Underrated?
2003-09-10 09:15
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Reader Mushtaq from Boston writes:

I read (Kevin) ModestiÕs piece with interest; I think contribution to wins is an excellent way of looking at how valuable Gagne is. Here are three reasons I think he is somewhat undervaluing GagneÕs performance:

1) I think that the blown save to win ratio is more like 4:1 than it is 2:1.

2) Modesti is not counting GagneÕs help in winning ball games in which he does not get the save. Note that he would also get some blame for losses in which he pitched. Similarly, Gagne is not credited for the games in which he has won.

3) Gagne has been able on a couple of occasions to pitch 4 games in a row; something that very few other closers are able to do. As such, it is probably not completely fair to say that another closer would be able to successfully save 42 of 49 opportunities because those closers would probably have a couple fewer opportunities.

Thoughts?

Here's my reply:

1) I don't know who's right. I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference in the larger argument.

2) Again, I don't know how significant this is. Gagne's performance in non-save situations has in fact been underrated, but I don't think that you could compare it favorably to, say, Hideo Nomo or Kevin Brown's role in no-decisions that the Dodgers ultimately win.

3) A valid point. But one that only establishes Gagne's greatness as a closer, not one that locks him in as a Cy Young winner.

As a big fan of Gagne's, I still think Modesti's piece is pretty dead on. Is Gagne great? Undoubtedly. If you could only have one pitcher this season, would you take Gagne over a guy who can give you 200 innings, like Prior or even Nomo? Possibly, but certainly debatable.

Fun to debate, though. With Smoltz, Nomo and Brown fading from contention, Gagne is certainly in the final four for the Cy Young with Jason Schmidt, Mark Prior, and unfortunately, Russ Ortiz.

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