Without much football on TV and a lack of decent baseball being played in Salem, I decided to highlight some of the best closers (Past, present, and future) to grace Capra. Sorry in advance if I missed someone.
The All-Time Greats
Tyler Henderson, 34, Fargo Woodchippers
Working his seventh major league campaign, Henderson is Capra’s all-time saves leader and a model of consistency. He has twice been named the NL Fireman of the Year (seasons four and six) and is a three-time All-Star. He has converted 226 of 259 (82%) save opportunities while posting a 2.95 career ERA and nearly a 3 to 1 K/BB ratio.
Henderson’s best season to date was Fargo’s World Championship season five, in which he saved 41 games in 45 chances and recorded 10 wins while posting a 2.89 ERA. To date Henderson has 6 saves and a 1.59 ERA in season seven.
Brady Garcia, 34, Scranton Breakers
Also in his seventh season, Garcia is second all-time in saves. Although not as dominant as Henderson, Garcia has converted 181 of 220 (82%) saves and posted a career 4.57 ERA with both Jackson and Scranton. He has twice been an All-Star and was the AL FOY in season three.
Despite being one of the league’s best for three seasons, Jackson owner steelerstime dealt Garcia after his best effort in season three, when he converted 39 of 47 save opportunities while posting a 3.49 ERA. With two more saves in season seven Garcia will have an even 100 in 3+ seasons with Scranton.
Rob Ojeda, 33, Honolulu Rain
The best of the AL West, Ojeda is number three among Capra’s all-time closers with 175 career saves in 212 chances (83%) while striking out 327 batters and walking only 91. The pride of Honolulu is a four-time All-Star and is the reigning AL FOY.
Despite blowing 10 chances last season Ojeda still set a personal best with 46 saves, four more than his previous high of 42 set in season four. Ojeda has posted a career ERA of 3.74 while holding opposing hitters to paltry .292 OBP.
Terry Blauser, 36, Ottawa Ice
Terry “Don’t call me Jeff” Blauser has been in Capra since day one, averaging 26 saves per season. His total of 159 conversions in 192 tries (83%) ranks him fourth among Capra greats, despite saving only five games in all of season six.
Blauser’s career ERA is 3.70 and he has posted 338 career strikeouts to go along with a 51-41 W/L record. He is a 4-time All-Star and was the American League FOY in season five. His best campaign may have been season two; in which he posted a 3.16 ERA and converted 37 of 42 save tries while limiting opposing batters to a .241 Avg.
Joe Nunnari, 35, El Paso Diablos
Nunnari has been usurped as the closer in El Paso these days, but his 155 saves are still good enough for fifth on the Capra all-time list. During his five seasons as closer in El Paso Nunnari converted saves at a rate of 85%, highest among the all-time leaders; and was a four-time All-Star and season two’s NL FOY.
The league’s inaugural season may have been Nunnari’s finest as he limited batters to a .239 batting average and posted a 2.80 ERA and 37 saves in 45 tries. He also recorded 8 wins in that All-Star year.
Despite being deposed from the closer’s throne Nunnari has one save just weeks into season seven while posting a 3.60 ERA.
The Up and Comers
Greg Shields, 27, Atlanta Stonewallers
At 27 years old Shields may be a little bit of a late bloomer, but his numbers from season six speak for themselves: 34 saves, 3.33 ERA, .239 Opp. Avg, and 56 strikeouts in 51 innings. A NL All-Star last year, Shields has converted 5 of 7 opportunities this season while posting a 6.35 ERA.
David Wanatabe, 26, St. Louis Archers
Wanatabe has spent at least parts of all seven seasons in the bigs, and has been shutting the door on St. Louis’ opponents consistently since his breakout year in season four; in which he posted 27 saves and a 3.98 ERA. He ran away with the NL FOY award in season five with 40 saves in 43 tries and a dominating 1.96 ERA. After notching 34 more saves a season ago, he is a perfect four of four in opportunities in season seven.
Sid Watson, 23, Jacksonville Juggarnauts
After being selected with the 82nd overall pick in the season two amateur draft, Watson was a Rule Five selection by Jacksonville in season six and made the jump to the major leagues; where he saved 18 of 24 ballgames and posted a 4.01 ERA in 52 games. A work in progress with dynamite stuff, Watson has saved four games and struck out nine in 6.1 innings this season.