Brad Lidge: Unsung Hero

A few years ago, Brad Lidge‘s career was over.  You know the game.  You also know the moment.  Lidge served up a MONSTER shot to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS that probably hasn’t landed yet.  He had an attrocious 2006 season with an ERA north of 5.00 and was eventually removed as closer of the Astros.

In 2007, he had a 3.36 ERA, but only 19 saves in mostly non-closer work.  In the following off-season, Lidge was dealt to the Phillies, who needed a closer.  I can imagine the Philly fans not too happy with the club’s acquisition.  But, maybe he just needed a change of scenary.

Then… Lidge as perfect in 2008.  No, really.  Perfect.  46-for-46 in save opportunities in the regular season and the postseason.  He won’t merit too much consideration for CY Young (should he?), but wow was he a rock in that Phillie bullpen.  Lidge saved 41 regular season games, had 15 earned runs in 69.1 innings pitched during the regular season, for an era south of 2.00.  In the post-season, Lidge allowed just one earned run in 9.1 innings pitched and that run was in the NLDS.  For all the attention that K-Rod’s season got by breaking the all-time saves record (three run leads, 7-8-9 hitters and all) I’d take Lidge’s over Rodriguez’s.  Accumulation of a lot of something is one thing, but perfection is quite another.

I don’t think people recognize just how special Lidge’s season is.  It wil be a long time before someone is perfect again.  Aside from Eric Gagne‘s (dare I say) steroid-enhanced three seasons where he was lights out, I can’t think of a more impressive stretch than Lidge’s this season.  You KNEW the game was over when he was coming in. What makes it more special is what he had to go through to get here.  Lidge was stripped of his closer’s role in Houston and now is on top of the world.

Congratulations to Brad Lidge on quite an impressive feat.

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