From the Collection: Lee Smith, closer, Chicago Cubs

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I received this autograph a couple years ago TTM. Probably 2005-2007.

There are not many players that I am on the fence about when it comes to HOF voting. I kinda feel like if you have to think too much about it, chances are the player should not be enshrined. Its the Hall of Fame. The players selected should be the best of the best, and for the most part household names.

But there are a few that I am torn on. Tim Raines and Lee Smith.

Lee Smith was actually a starting pitcher after being drafted in 1975 by the Cubs in the second round. He did not fare well. In 1978, while with the Midland Cubs, he was converted to a pen arm. His numbers steadily improved, and by 1980 was with the big league club.

Over a long 18 year career Lee would be selected to seven All-Star Teams and win the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year three times. He would lead the league in saves four times and finish in the Top 5 of Cy Young voting three times. He has 478 career saves, good for #3 on the all time list behind Trevor Hoffman (601) and Mariano Rivera (652). There are no active players that look like they will be passing him anytime soon; the closest in Joe Nathan in 376 saves.

Its a tough one. No doubt he is one of the greatest closers of the game, but closers are like DH and I don’t think fans of HOF voters really know how to consider them when talking about the games all-time greats. I think that Lee Smith is the Edgar Martinez of the relief candidates–a guy that probably should be in, but will be held back by his position. I am sure the veterans committee will vote him in at some point.

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H BB SO ERA+ WHIP Awards
1975 17 CHC-min Rk 3 5 2.32 10 10 0 62.0 35 49 35 1.355
1976 18 CHC-min A 4 8 5.35 26 18 0 101.0 120 74 52 1.921
1977 19 CHC-min A 10 4 4.29 26 18 0 130.0 131 85 82 1.662
1978 20 CHC-min AA 8 10 5.98 30 25 1 155.0 161 128 71 1.865
1979 21 CHC-min AA 9 5 4.93 35 9 3 104.0 122 85 46 1.990
1980 22 CHC-min AAA 4 7 3.70 50 2 15 90.0 70 56 63 1.400
1980 22 CHC NL 2 0 2.91 18 0 6 0 21.2 21 14 17 138 1.615
1981 23 CHC NL 3 6 3.51 40 1 12 1 66.2 57 31 50 106 1.320
1982 24 CHC NL 2 5 2.69 72 5 38 17 117.0 105 37 99 139 1.214
1983 ★ 25 CHC NL 4 10 1.65 66 0 56 29 103.1 70 41 91 229 1.074 AS,CYA-9,MVP-18
1984 26 CHC NL 9 7 3.65 69 0 59 33 101.0 98 35 86 107 1.317
1985 27 CHC NL 7 4 3.04 65 0 57 33 97.2 87 32 112 131 1.218
1986 28 CHC NL 9 9 3.09 66 0 59 31 90.1 69 42 93 131 1.229
1987 ★ 29 CHC NL 4 10 3.12 62 0 55 36 83.2 84 32 96 137 1.386 AS
1988 30 BOS AL 4 5 2.80 64 0 57 29 83.2 72 37 96 148 1.303 MVP-21
1989 31 BOS AL 6 1 3.57 64 0 50 25 70.2 53 33 96 116 1.217
1990 32 TOT MLB 5 5 2.06 64 0 53 31 83.0 71 29 87 188 1.205
1990 32 BOS AL 2 1 1.88 11 0 8 4 14.1 13 9 17 222 1.535
1990 32 STL NL 3 4 2.10 53 0 45 27 68.2 58 20 70 182 1.136
1991 ★ 33 STL NL 6 3 2.34 67 0 61 47 73.0 70 13 67 158 1.137 AS,CYA-2,MVP-8
1992 ★ 34 STL NL 4 9 3.12 70 0 55 43 75.0 62 26 60 110 1.173 AS,CYA-4
1993 ★ 35 TOT MLB 2 4 3.88 63 0 56 46 58.0 53 14 60 103 1.155 AS
1993 35 STL NL 2 4 4.50 55 0 48 43 50.0 49 9 49 88 1.160
1993 35 NYY AL 0 0 0.00 8 0 8 3 8.0 4 5 11 1.125
1994 ★ 36 BAL AL 1 4 3.29 41 0 39 33 38.1 34 11 42 153 1.174 AS,CYA-5,MVP-14
1995 ★ 37 CAL AL 0 5 3.47 52 0 51 37 49.1 42 25 43 136 1.358 AS
1996 38 CAL-min A+ 0 0 9.00 1 1 0 0 1.0 1 1 1 2.000
1996 38 TOT MLB 3 4 3.74 54 0 24 2 55.1 57 26 41 118 1.500
1996 38 CAL AL 0 0 2.45 11 0 8 0 11.0 8 3 6 205 1.000
1996 38 CIN NL 3 4 4.06 43 0 16 2 44.1 49 23 35 105 1.624
1997 39 MON NL 0 1 5.82 25 0 14 5 21.2 28 8 15 73 1.662
1998 40 HOU-min AAA,AA 1 1 5.84 12 0 9 2 12.1 15 4 16 1.541
18 Yrs 71 92 3.03 1022 6 802 478 1289.1 1133 486 1251 132 1.256
162 Game Avg. 5 6 3.03 68 0 53 32 85 75 32 83 132 1.256
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/7/2015.
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