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How good was The Mad Australian this season? Grant Balfour put up some sick numbers this season. In 58.1 innings, Balfour allowed only 28 hits and 24 walks while striking out 82. He pitched to a 1.54 ERA. Certainly the best season by a relief pitcher in the short history of the Rays. But we wonder if there was a bigger context we could look at to see exactly how dominating he was this season.

We went to the “Play Index” at

We did a search for every pitcher that has ever posted a season with at least 11 strike outs per 9 innings, while giving up less than 9 hits and walks combined per 9 innings with an ERA less than 1.70 (minimum 40 innings pitched). Three criteria for a dominating relief pitcher.

The results? The Mad Australian is just the 4th pitcher in the history of baseball to post such a dominating season out of the bullpen. The other three is a who’s who of dominating closer performances, including Eric Gagne (2003), Billy Wagner (1999) and Joe Nathan (2006). Gagne won the Cy Young Award in ’03, while Wagner finished 4th and Nathan finished 5th. The only difference between their seasons and Balfour’s was the number of saves. They each recorded at least 36 saves, while Balfour only had 4.

We knew Balfour had a strong season, but we had no idea that it was one of the best in the history of baseball.


  • In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, we ran a bunch of “Webtopia” links in the evening “Happy Hour” feature. [Rays Index]
  • Remember the Rays fan that ended up with the Evan Longoria home run ball above the Monster at Fenway in game 3? He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the incident. [Rays Index]
  • Congratulations go out to Gabe Gross and his wife Kelly, who are expecting their first child in May. [Celebrity Baby Blog]
  • Rocco Baldelli could get the start in right field tonight with Gabe Gross struggling…Also, Joe Maddon is not worried about the Red Sox history of comebacks noting that he would rather concentrate on executing their own gameplan. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Smith says the key to Scott Kazmir is surviving the first inning. Smith points out that Kid K tends to settle down after long first innings and gains confidence as the game moves along. [St. Pete Times]
  • The Phillies won the NLCS 3 games to 1…The Rays aren’t there yet, but it is worth noting that every time a Tampa Bay franchise wins a championship they beat a Philadelphia team on the way. [The Fightins]
  • This is worth pointing out again. 18 “experts” at predicted the World Series matchup prior to the playoffs. 2 picked the Rays to win the ALCS. None picked the Phillies. If the Rays win the ALCS, that will be 2 correct picks out of 36. Wow. [ESPN]
  • Bugs and Cranks found a picture of the reverse mohawks from Fenway. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • John Romano says Jim Hickey deserves much of the credit for the Rays success and points out that he came very close to losing his job last winter. [St. Pete Times]
  • More evidence that the Red Sox Nation isn’t as devoted as they would like you to believe. Tickets can be had for ALCS games in Fenway for below face value. [Boston Globe]
  • Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post says the Red Sox are being betrayed by their age and are suddenly old news. The perfect metaphor for this series is the young, speedy Carl Crawford beating out an infield single with the old Tim Wakefield scrambling on the ground trying to throw out Crawford. [Washington Post]
  • Wallace Matthews seems to think the Yankees paid for the Rays success…Bitter much? [Newsday]
  • John Tomase of the Boston Herald points out that this incarnation of the Red Sox is much different than the teams that made postseason comebacks. [Boston Herald]
  • Tonight could be the last game for Jason Varitek in a Red Sox uniform. [Boston Globe]
  • Fire Brand of the American League points out 5 keys to the Red Sox winning game 5. [Fire Brand of the American League]
  • Awful Announcing gets it. We will fully admit that a Rays-Phillies World Series would not be FOX TV’s first choice. Thankfully, there is not a single mention of how Bud Selig is rooting for the Red Sox and the Dodgers. We have already pointed out how ridiculous that sentiment is. [Awful Announcing]
  • The Rays signed four 16-year old players during the international free agent signing period. Among the players signed is a switch-hitting catcher from Venezuela named “Narvaez”. Coincidence? [Tampa Bay Rays Prospects]
  • Stay classy Pink Hat Nation…How Youz Doin Baseball? Did this blog get their name from a line in “Friends”? That’s hot. Oh, and the only other Colby Alum we know is the guy in the bottom of THIS picture. We don’t think we have ever seen somebody more afraid of a baseball that was no where near them. [How Youz Doin Baseball]
  • We are not sure where this person did their research. It is yet another attempt at showing how the Rays roster was put together. Two problems. The list of players traded by the Rays is short about 6 names. And nobody in baseball is acquired for “FREE”. What does that even mean? The Rays traded Josh Butler, a former 2nd round pick, for Gabe Gross. And Chad Bradford was acquired for a player to be named later. The Rays will likely send a player to Baltimore once the season ends. Cheap? Yes. But not “FREE”. For the complete list, check here. [Beyond the Boxscore]
  • Kevin Gengler stops by The Hardball Times and gives an in depth review of the Rays farm system. [The Hardball Times]


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