Thursday, February 5, 2009

#20T Lee Smith


I wonder how many card backs feature a quote from Cubs catcher Jody Davis? This one does. I also can't help be reminded of what a terrible trade this was for the Cubs.


From 1991 to 1993, Smith was the top closer in baseball.


Smith has a bunch of years left on his HOF eligibility but got only 44.5% of the vote in 2009. Voters still don't know how to handle closers, and I'm still shocked that Bruce Sutter got in. Smith's numbers compare very favorable with Sutters, and frankly I think he strongly deserves to be in the HOF. He was one of the best closers ever and was dominant for a number of years. I think he has only about a 30% chance of getting in, though.


  1. He might be one of those guys who gets in during his last or second-to-last year of eligibility. The tide's slowly turning toward him, but I think it'll get there. I think he should be in, too.

  2. Smith should absolutely be in the HOF. He was one of the early flame-throwing save specialists and he was lights out for a long time. I recently posted a similar bit about Smith and Sutter over on my '87 Topps blog (which I completely ripped off from your '88 Topps blog).

    Great blog BTW and great stuff over at B-R. I'm a religious reader of your stuff.

  3. I didn't know about your 87 Topps blog until now! I will be reading!

  4. 1987 Cubs....Andre Dawson, Lee Smith, Ryne Sandberg, Rick Sutcliffe, Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux. Hard to imagine that bunch finished last with 1 current HOF (Sandberg), 1 dead lock certain future HOF (Maddux) a probable HOF (Dawson) a longshot HOF (Moyer) and a Cy Young (Sutcliffe). They also had a steroid HOF casualty come up midseason and hit well (Palmiero).

    Oh yeah. That's all they had.

  5. I was a big Lee Smith fan, and ever since he has provided the model for what I think a closer should look like. He was big with rangy arms; his eyelids always looked a little heavy, he was always a little hunched over, and he always looked just a little bit out of breath, so that a batter might reasonably fear that Smith was tired and losing just enough control of his fastball to accidentally nail him in the ribs.

  6. And I am also now really excited about the blog for 1987 Topps - my favorite set of all time.