15-6, 1.97/1.096/.201, 132.1 IP, 66 G, 25 SV, 83.3 SV%, 162 K, 51 BB, 11.0 K/9, 3.2 K/BB, 191 ERA+
All-Star, MVP – 5
Radatz is often considered Boston’s first true closer – he was certainly the club’s best over more than a single-season period until Jonathan Papelbon’s emergence the past two seasons. The Monster followed up a terrific rookie season with this one, which was even better. Averaging better than two innings and two strikeouts per appearance, Radatz won an astounding 15 games while never appearing as a starter, one of just 13 relievers ever to win so many (something no one’s done since 1976).
Exemplifying the dominance Radatz exhibited in his first three seasons, he did not give up a run in 14 appearances from May 13 to June 14, throwing 33 scoreless innings, striking out 43 and allowing just 18 baserunners. Of 13 runners inherited, only three scored. Amazingly, he recorded only four saves (though he did win four games) because eight times he was brought in with the Red Sox trailing or tied, and three times used with the Sox up by at least four runs.
Perhaps the biggest testament to the stamina a pitcher like Radatz needed in the early days of the relief specialist are the 28 games in which he pitched two or more innings, including 13 of at least three innings. Twelve times, Radatz was brought in to pitch extra innings. All 12 times, Radatz pitched through the end of the game, going 9-3.
Key game: June 11. The Red Sox lead 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh when Boston starter Wilbur Wood runs into trouble. Manager Johnny Pesky calls on Radatz – his 6-foot-5, 235-pound beast of a closer – to close the door for the final two-plus innings.
Radtaz instead gives up a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Bill Bruton, blowing the save and tying the game. Radatz’s job is now to preserve the tie for the Red Sox bats. So he does. Radatz retires the side in order in the eighth, works around a single in the ninth, sets down six straight in the 10th and 11th, and after a 12th-inning leadoff single, retires another nine in a row.
In the top of the 14th, the Red Sox break through on back-to-back home runs from Frank Malzone and Dick Stuart. Radatz returns to the mound in the bottom of the 14th and again retires the side in order, striking out Bruton for the final out of the marathon game. Radatz picks up the win, having pitched 8.2 innings while allowing three hits and one walk, and striking out 11. He set down the final 12 batters he faced, seven via strikeout.