Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.

Robb Nen, CP, Texas (1993), Florida (1993-97), San Francisco (1997-2002)
This year: No.
Deserving: No, though he's an intriguing what-might-have-been.
Will writers think he's deserving?: They don't thinki Goose Gossage is worthy. Of course, they think Bruce Sutter is better, so if only Nen had pretended to invent a pitch.
Stay on ballot: No.
Veteran's Committee: He might get snubbed by the Giants' and Marlins' Hall of Fames, if they even have them.

Robb Nen should be a cautionary tale and an example of how sports breeds determination and courage, if only in a limited environment. The man destroyed his shoulder and his career to aid in a World Series championship. Like every other Bay Area Giants squad, the 2002 version fell short. And at 32 years old, Robb Nen would never pitch again.
He had 314 saves in essentially eight years. Three years of an ERA under 2, and a 2.28 ERA in that final season despite half a year of torn labrums, cuffs, you name it. At least 68 games and as many as 88 innings in the last seven years, with more than a strikeout per inning and a career 138 ERA+. Eleven postseason saves in 20 appearances, and anchored the 1997 Marlins run.

There's just not enough years. His comparables rank with other great, but non-HOF, players: John Wetteland, Tom Henke, Troy Percival, Jeff Montgomery.

Plus, he faces the hurdle of being a closer. No one wants to elect them, and with good reason. Every year, you see a guy implode for seemingly no reason, or a nobody have a great year (Dan Kolb, anyone). The stalwarts are few and far between, and none save Mariano Rivera are locks (no, not even Trevor "Big Game" Hoffman).

So, sorry, Nen, you'll have to wait. But you were one hell of a player, one whose grit should be emulated with wariness of the single-mindedness that took years off a career that could still be going (he's only 38).


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