Yesterday there was plenty of discussion of Big Bad Jonathan Broxton in the comments at Dodger Thoughts. I tend to fall on the side that considers Broxton a fine pitcher whose failures are unfairly magnified, though I do understand the emotional reaction and will confess to nearly losing patience with him at one point last season. It's really a strange thing and I can't justify it. Broxton is clearly an elite reliever by strikeouts and walks and runs allowed.
Since I have nothing else to write about today I thought I would break down all eight of Broxton's blown saves last season into three categories: horrific, regular, and unfair.
Broxton was pounded. He gave up 6 runs and got only one out. He gave away the lead and the tie and any realistic shot at the game. This loss was 100% on him. A horrific blown save.
Kershaw's debut. Broxton comes in with a 3-2 lead, a man on third, and one out. Ideally he would get a strikeout here but instead he gives up a fly out and the run scores. In the eighth inning he gets Pujols, Ludwick and Glaus in order. Broxton gives up no hits in his outing. The Dodgers win the game in the tenth, due in part to Broxton's excellent work in this game. Unfair blown save with very good pitching.
Broxton comes in with a 1-0 lead, with runners are first and third and one out. DeWitt boots a slow roller that probably would have scored the tying run anyway. Broxton gets the second out of the inning but then goes on to give up two hits to score two more runs. If the fielding had backed him up Broxton would have given up the lead but not the tie through little fault of his own. As it was he wasn't able to stop the bleeding after the error and the game was lost, so in that respect it was poorly pitched. Unfair blown save with poor pitching.
Broxton give up 3 runs and 4 hits in the eighth inning, turning a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 loss. A horrific blown save.
Broxton gives up a double to turn a 6-4 lead into a 6-6 tie in the seventh inning. He will pitch a perfect eighth in which he retires current Dodgers Ausmus and Loretta. The Dodgers will go on to win in extra innings. This is a legitimate blown save but not a meltdown. Regular blown save.
Broxton is now the closer. The Dodgers take the lead in the top of the tenth against the Giants on a Jeff Kent home run. Broxton makes a throwing error and gives up two singles and a double to allow the Giants to win 3-2. A devastating loss. A horrific blown save.
Broxton comes in to close out a 2-1 victory over the Phillies. Instead he allows a few baserunners and gives up a game-tying single to Pedro Feliz. Broxton then gets Rollins to preserve the tie. The Dodgers will go on to lose in extra innings. This is loss number three in the Dodgers near-season-breaking eight game losing streak. But Broxton did not lose the game on his own. Regular blown save.
The Dodger rally off Giant reliever Brian Wilson ( a genuinely bad closer ) to turn a 2-4 deficit into a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth. Broxton comes in to close the game. He allows a baserunner who steals second and goes to third on Martin's throwing error. The tying run comes home on a sac fly, and Broxton then gets the last out. The Giants will go on to win off of another pitcher when Dave Roberts singles home a run. Broxton could have pitched better but this blown save is not his fault, since without the throwing error no runs scores on the fly ball. Unfair blown save.
Of Broxton's 8 blown saves last year, 3 were unfair and not really his fault, 2 were legitimate blown saves but did not by themselves cost the team the game, and 3 were horrific blown saves that lost the game. Broxton had 14 holds and 13 saves last year. That's 27 successes versus 5 genuine failures with the lead on the line. That's not a fabulous ratio but it is a good one. The idea that Broxton can't be a closer is based on emotion and not reality.