As I was watching Brad Zielger pitch against us I thought, What would it take for a reliever with little to no closing experience to make the Hall. Essentially, if a relief pitcher never closes, what would it take for him to make the Hall of Fame.
I do not have an answer, I am just very curious to see the conversation, I will give some data for you to work off of. First of all there are only 5 relief pitchers(to my knowledge) in the Hall of Fame, I will list there stats below. All of them have a ton of saves, so none of them apply to the question.
Bruce Setter - 300 Saves, 1042 IP, 4.76 ERA(though in his prime he was mostly under 3,) 861 SO, and 309 BB's
Hoyt Wilhelm - 227 saves over 20+ years. This guy pitched in the 50's through the early 70's so yeah.1610 SO, 778 BB, and 2255 IP. .
Dennis Eckersley - Of course we know about him 390 saves, 3000+ IP, 3.50 ERA, 2401 SO's, 738 BB, same as above
Rich Gossage - 310 SV, 1809 IP, 1502 SO's, 732 BB, 3.01 ERA
Rollie Fingers - 341 SV, 1701 IP, 2.90 ERA, 1299 SO's, 492 BB
Things they have in common, 2 to 1 K/BB Ratio, most hovered around or were well below 3.00 ERA during their prime, and all had north of 1000 IP. Is that what it would take? More? Is there no way a reliver who wasnt a closer could make the Hall? What if Mariano Rivera had a the same set up man the entire time he was there, would that made up set up man make it? They guy that I can think of that would be the closest to making the Hall Is Dotel, and I dont think he is a Hall of Famer.