DETROIT – Jose Valverde -- one of the most reliable, albeit frustrating, closers from this era of Detroit Tigers baseball -- is listed as one of 32 finalists on the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
That’s right. Papa Grande is listed among the likes of Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa and Larry Walker.
Valverde put together perhaps the best season of all time as a closer in Detroit, converting all 49 of his save chances to lead the Tigers to a division title in 2011. His saves were always pretty, and he had plenty of trouble in non-save situations, but Valverde was undeniably good -- no matter how uncomfortable he made the fan base.
Valverde fell just short of the 300 saves club when he retired in 2014, finishing with 288 saves in 328 attempts. He struck out 692 batters in 630.1 innings over his career, posting a 3.27 ERA, 3.66 WHIP, 1.196 WHIP and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Known across the league for his loud screams and emphatic celebrations, Valverde wasn’t beloved among hitters. He got into countless staring and shouting matches with opposing hitters, but more times than not he got the job done.
Is he Hall of Fame worthy? Well, that will be up to the voters.
Valverde played for four teams in his 12-year MLB career -- five years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, two years with the Houston Astros, four years with the Tigers and one year with the New York Mets.
He was most dominant his first five seasons with the Diamondbacks, but recorded the most saves in Detroit.
Valverde made three All-Star teams -- once in the National league with the Diamondbacks in 2007 and then twice for the Tigers in 2010 and 2011.
Despite all his regular season success, the postseason was not kind to Valverde. In 10 playoff appearances with the Tigers in 2011 and 2012, Valverde allowed 15 earned runs in 10 innings. He allowed 18 hits and seven walks while striking out 12 batters in those 10 innings.
In classic Valverde fashion, he managed to convert four of five save opportunities in the postseason for the Tigers, despite those ugly numbers.
The Hall of Fame ballot also features former Tigers players Carlos Pena, Brad Penny and Gary Sheffield.