From the first day the Colorado Rockies signed closer Greg Holland to a deal, I have had one thought about him in mind: Keep him to a short-term contract.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery and playing in Coors Field, I didn’t have the certainty that he could be successful for the Rockies. However, Holland has been phenomenal, and could be up for a couple of different titles if he keeps this up for the rest of the season.
Comeback Player of the Year/Reliever of the Year
This award typically goes to a player who had a bad season the year before, then bounces back. However, Greg Holland is doing what he is doing the year after coming down with one of the worst injuries to a pitcher. But if you want statistical proof he deserves this, I’m prepared:
In 2014, Greg Holland posted 46 saves and a 1.44 ERA. This was enough to have him fifth in the Cy Young Award voting and in the top 20 MVP candidates … not to mention making his second All-Star Game appearance. The next year, 2015, was worse, to say the least. His ERA skyrocketed to 3.83, with only 32 saves. This was the final year before Tommy John surgery. In other words, this is his first year back. And he has been sensational.
So far this season, Holland has posted an ERA of 0.96, which is tinkering on all-time great. Through almost only a third of the season, Holland already has 19 saves. This would put him on pace for somewhere around 57 saves, also hovering in the all-time great success neighborhood. In fact, it would tie Bobby Thigpen for the most single season saves in MLB history (keep in mind the save was created in the 1960s). It is improbable he will achieve that, but it goes to show just how good he can be.
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Best offseason signing
Before the 2017 MLB season kicked off, Holland likely wasn’t even considered a top 10 best free agent. However, Holland has put the Rockies on the map. His spectacular year has brought the Rockies from a hope of a playoff appearance to owning the National League’s best record.
Most Rockies fans know that, last year, the bullpen was a major problem. In fact, it was probably the reason the Rockies didn’t compete for the postseason. While it may have been a stretch, the Rockies were only four games back of a Wild Card spot during the second half of the year in 2016. The bullpen was almost known for blowing leads. Now, through 54 games, the Rockies have only lost by one run twice. It shows that they have held on to leads, and that should be credited to Holland.
We can all now see the value in Edwin Incarnation, now playing in Cleveland after being signed away from Toronto. After leaving the Blue Jays, Toronto has turned from a World Series contender to a team fighting just to make the playoffs, with improbable results. He has to be the best player competing with Holland for this title. However, the Indians were the American League champions last year, but they are hovering just above .500. Meanwhile, Holland has taken a decent Rockies team and put them in the World Series conversation. I would have to say this one isn’t even close.
Greatest closer in Rockies history
Sure, Holland has a small sample size as of right now, but this is still a possibility. First, the Rockies have never had a Hall of Fame-level closer. If Holland was this good for multiple years, there is no doubt in my mind he would be in the Hall of Fame. Rockies fans have almost never seen a reliever pitch below a 1.00 ERA before. If the Rockies could go far into the playoffs this year, he has to be in that conversation.
Greg Holland is putting together a historic season for the Rockies, making him one of the most rewarding signings in Rockies history. And through his comeback from Tommy John surgery, winning Reliever of the Year, and being recognized as the best offseason signing, Holland is primed to go down as one of the best in Colorado Rockies history.