The 100 Greatest in 100 Days: #95 Dennis Eckersley

Slamming the door shut at #95 is legendary Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley. While Eck was an accomplished starting pitcher for the first half of his career—he was a 20-game winner for Boston in 1978, led the AL in ERA+ in 1979, and was selected to two All-Star games—he was a “light’s out, don’t let the door hit you on the way out” closer for the second half. He would redefine what an elite season looked like for a closer when he made the move to the bullpen for Oakland in 1987. After a successful first season as a full-time closer, Eck would catch fire in 1988, leading the American League in saves and finishing 2nd in the Cy Young voting. Eck’s two most dominant seasons and the two most dominant back-to-back seasons by a closer in major league baseball history came in 1989 and 1990 when he posted microscopic whips of .607 and .614. His 1990 ERA of .61 is almost hard to believe and translates to an out-of-this-world ERA+ of 603. Eck’s late-inning dominance helped lead Oakland to the 1990 World Series title and three consecutive World Series appearances.  Eck would put a stamp on his Hall of Fame career by winning the Cy Young and AL MVP in 1992, becoming only the 4th reliever in history to do so. Eck is the only pitcher in baseball history with at least 390 saves and 190 wins, and no player in Major League Baseball history has more 45-save seasons.

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