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The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Aurelio Lopez

Senior Smoke had one of the more underappreciated careers of any Tiger in 1980s. He emerged as the Tigers’ closer in the last 70s, and his best season might have been 1979, when he finished seventh in the Cy Young. By 1981, he had lost the closer job to Kevin Saucier, and later, Dave Tobik until he picked it back up in 1983 and made the All-Star team.

His 1984 season was nothing short of fantastic. He set a career high by pitching in 137 2/3 innings (unheard of by a reliever these days), and posted a near perfect 10-1 record, with his only loss coming in the final week of the season. If there was one fault to Lopez’s game, it was his propensity to give up the long ball. But he finished his career with an impressive 62-36 career record, while racking up 93 saves.

Here’s Lopez’s 1984 numbers:

Innings Pitched 137 2/3
Wins 10
Losses 1
Saves 14
ERA 2.94
ERA+ 133
WHIP 1.169
H/9 7.13
BB/9 3.40
SO/9 6.15
HR/9 1.05
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 43
Stuff 4

Both his PRAR and his Stuff were hurt because of his homer rate, but this is an impressive season for a reliever by any standard. The fact that he was the second best reliever on the team that year means Sparky had two outstanding arms coming out of the pen.

Will McEnaney, while having a solid season, doesn’t really match up. Lopez was better, and he did it over several more innings. So it looks like we’re tied going into the homestretch.

Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 7

You can read Blade’s analysis of Will McEnaney at Reds Cutting Edge.

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