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All Things Baseball

Papelbon is Amazing But There’s Another Rookie Closer That’s Doing Great

In the AL East, it’s easy to notice the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox, and easy to forget the Orioles and Devil Rays.  It’s also easy to notice Mariano Rivera, BJ Ryan, and Jon Papelbon (the closers for the Yanks, Jays, and BoSox), and easy to forget Chris Ray, the closer for the Baltimore Orioles. 

While the Orioles’ playoff hopes are likely over (16.5 games back and chasing 3 teams), there’s a reason to believe in this team in the future, and that reason is Chris Ray, who is quickly developing into an elite closer.  This season, Ray has converted 23 of 24 save opportunities, blowing just one save, to lead the MLB in that category.  In 39.2 innings pitched, Ray has allowed 28 hits, 14 runs (13 earned), while walking 14 and K’ing 38.  If there’s been one bright spot in the Orioles 2006 season, it has been the job Chris Ray has done shutting-down opposing hitters in the 9th inning. The Orioles have won 44 games this season, and Ray has 24 saves, meaning that he has sealed more than half of the O’s victories.  His performance in the minor leagues eased the pressure on Baltimore to re-sign 2005 closer BJ Ryan, who has done a terrific job in Toronto, but has not been missed in Baltimore because of the kid closer who’s doing even better.  Because the Orioles haven’t been nearly as good as Boston, New York, or Toronto this season, it’s hard to compare Ray’s save total with those of Papelbon, Rivera, and Ryan, but since Papelbon is the league leader with 29, Ray would probably have that many or more if he were pitching for a contender.

If this weren’t the rookie season of Jon Papelbon and Francisco Liriano, Chris Ray would be holding the Rookie of the Year trophy at the end of the year.

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