Ok, so Fingers has his number retired and I thought that was kind of odd, seeing as how he only played for the Brewers for a few years. I like Fingers as much as the next guy, but I don't understand the criteria. Was it simply because of how awesome he was when he was here and that he ended his career here? Anyway, that got me thinking and I wondered how Fingers' awesome year in 1981 stacked up against Axford's performance this year.
Clash of the 'Stache
Fingers had a hall-of-fame year in the strike season of 1981, winning the MVP and CYA on the way to having one of the best years for a closer ever. He finished with a 6-3 record and 28 saves in 47 appearances.
Axford has come out of nowhere this year to have a remarkable rookie season. With a couple of weeks of play remaining, Ax has appeared in 43 games and posted a 7-1 record with 20 saves.
There's more similarity here than just facial hair I think. Ax is having a Fingers-like season as a closer. Comparisons:
Saves: 28 (
5 6 BS)
Saves: 20 (2 BS)
Looking into the numbers, these were two totally different kinds of closers. The Ax is a guy who can shut down the opposition for an inning with pretty good regularity. Fingers had a lot more stamina - 30 of his 47 appearances were for more than an inning, and four of his appearances were for more than three innings. His longest was on April 29 when he came on in relief of Jim Slaton with 2 out in the 9th in a 0-0 game and pitched through the 13th inning before giving way to Easterly.
Fingers sometimes pitched multiple innings on consecutive days (he saved both games of a doubleheader on 8/16) and rarely got longer breaks, but the Ax has only gone past one inning in 11 of his 43 appearances, and has gone unused on occasion for five or more days at a time.
The real deal is where you can put a pitcher out there and they give up nothing and completely shut down the opponent down for at least an inning in a close game. The comparison for perfect appearances (1+ inn, 0.0 WHIP):
Axford: 11 of 43
Fingers: 10 of 47
Considering that '81 was far and away the best season that the HOF Fingers ever had, is this Axford kid better than we thought or does his mustache pale compared to the legend?