Bruce Sutter, Hall of Fame pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, has passed away, it was announced today. Sutter was 69.
Sutter was one of the first dominant closers in MLB history, racking up 300 saves over 12 seasons, including leading the majors in saves in 1979, 1982 and 1984, and leading the National League in saves in 1980 and 1981. Sutter was a six time All Star who won the National League Cy Young Award in 1979, finished third in 1982 and 1984, fifth in 1981, and sixth in 1977. He also had five top-ten MVP finishes, his best being fifth in 1982.
From 1977 through 1984, Sutter averaged over 100 innings per season, even including the strike-shortened year of 1981. He spent his first five seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs before being traded after the 1980 season to the St. Louis Cardinals in a deal that brought Leon Durham to Chicago. He was part of the Cardinals’ World Series winning team in 1982, when he closed out the game for the Cards in three of their four wins in the World Series, including the decision Game Seven. He signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent after the 1984 season, but was dogged by injuries, which ultimately resulted in him retiring after the 1988 season.
Sutter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006, in his 13th year of eligibility, and was the first pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame who never started a game in the major leagues. His split finger pitch was seen as one of the deadliest pitches in the game during his prime, and his success with the pitch helped lead to it being more widely adopted around baseball in the 1980s.