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Happily Ever Axford


Rain or shine, one thing is near-certain: If you turn a lead over to The Ax, you keep it.

Closers are often maligned by the statistical community as an overrated role, and the money they make is viewed as disproportionate to the work they do. However, when closers do show up to do their work, it is always in high-leverage situations and they are expected to never fail.

Eventually all closers do fail from time to time. But if it seems like our mustachioed man is above average in that category, it's true.

Since 2010, of all the closers with at least 80 save opportunities, Axford ranks 2nd in percentage converted.

Opp Sv BS %
Jose Valverde 89 84 5 94%
John Axford 86 80 6 93%
Brian Wilson 95 85 10 89%
Chris Perez 85 76 9 89%
Heath Bell 112 100 12 89%
Jonathan Papelbon 93 82 11 88%
Mariano Rivera 93 82 11 88%
Joakim Soria 81 71 10 88%
Juan Oviedo 80 66 14 83%
Francisco Cordero 96 79 17 82%
Carlos Marmol 91 74 17 81%
Matt Capps 83 67 16 81%

The other thing to take away from this chart is that these are the only guys in the majors who've even had 80 opportunities, which means not only do they need to convert at least 80% of their opportunities in high-leverage situations, potentially facing pinch-hitting specialists with inherited runners on base to keep their jobs, but they need to stay healthy. A starter might pitch longer, but he gets four days of rest. A closer needs to be ready to throw fireballs on short notice for indefinite consecutive nights.

It's not an easy job, and The Ax does it well.

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