Closer: Dennis Eckersley
Right-hander Dennis Eckersley was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1972, beginning a 24-year career as a starter and, more famously, as one of the best closers of all time. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2004, which was hardly a surprise considered that Eckersley was a six-time All-Star.
During his time with Cleveland, Eckersley pitched a no-hitter against the Angels on May 30, 1977. From there, he was traded to the Red Sox the following Spring, and then the Chicago Cubs in 1984. Finally, he landed in Oakland, where he proceeded to have the best years of his career.
During his nine seasons with the Athletics, Eckersley saved 320 games while maintaining a 2.74 ERA. He struck out 658 batters in 637 innings, which is an impressive feat on its own. In 1992, he took home all of the top awards: Cy Young and MVP, plus relief pitcher of the year. Eckersley led the league in saves in 1988 and 1992, and ranked in the top-ten every season from 1987 to 1997. His 390 career saves are the sixth-highest total in major league history.
Eckersley’s number, 43, was retired by the Athletics in 2005 – a fitting tribute to the Bay Area native who was such an important part of A’s history.
Next: The Bullpen: Setup Man