Wickman Holds Saves Record Perez Currently Chases
Evan Matsumoto | On 23, Apr 2013
After racking up a career-high 39 saves in 43 save opportunities in 2012, though, Perez ranked among the best closers in the league. Now, Perez has 100 saves in an Indian’s uniform—just 39 saves shy of the all-time Cleveland record.
The current record holder is Bob Wickman. His 139 saves come with a 3.23 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 248.1 innings pitched for the Tribe.
Wickman, born in 1969 in Green Bay, Wis., was drafted in the second round of the 1990 First Year Player draft by the Chicago White Sox. He didn’t see a single inning of playing time in Chicago before they traded him to the New York Yankees in January 1992.
It was in pinstripes that Wickman made his Major League debut. In his first season of work he went 6-1 with a 4.11 ERA.
In 1996, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Pat Listach, Graeme Lloyd and a player to be named later, which turned out to be Ricky Bones. While in Milwaukee, Wickman recorded 25 saves in 1998 and 37 saves in 1999 and bagged his first $1 million contract in 1997.
From the trade in 2000 until 2006, Wickman played for the Indians.
He sat out the 2003 season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery. That didn’t stop Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro from believing in him, though.
“I think what gives me confidence in Wickman is in his track record,” Shapiro said in a 2004 article by AP sports writer Tom Withers. “My belief in his heart and his toughness.”
His shining moment, though, came in 2005. His 45 saves during that season were enough to tie him with the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez for the most saves in the American League. He finished as an All-Star and landed 26th in the MVP voting, along with fellow Indians Grady Sizemore (23), Victor Martinez (18) and Travis Hafner (5).
A 2006 trade sent Wickman to the Atlanta Braves for minor leaguer Max Ramirez. Atlanta’s struggling bullpen was a point of concern for General Manager John Schuerholz. He thought Wickman would be the answer to those ailments.
“”It is no longer a work in progress for us,” Schuerholz told the Associated Press in 2006. “Based on Bob’s track record … he’s going to be a guy to get the job done for us.”
Wickman officially retired in 2007 while he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He finished his career with 267 saves, a 3.57 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.
In Cleveland now, Perez currently sits in fourth place on Cleveland’s all-time save list; Jose Mesa is in third with 104 saves, Doug Jones in second with 129, and Wickman holds down the top spot with his 139.
In 2011 and 2012, Perez accumulated 36 and 39 saves, respectively, for the struggling Tribe. If he continues that kind of production it won’t take long to become Cleveland’s all-time leader in saves.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer