Thinking about some of the Hall of Fame relief pitchers such as Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage, it is easy to understand why Quisenberry is not in the HOF. What may need to be explained is why some give him consideration, but do not give the same consideration to guys like Lee Smith, Jeff Reardon, John Franco and others who outperformed Quisenberry for the length of their careers.
Lets talk about the best of Quisenberry's career, which was from 1980-1985 and saw the Royals make the postseason 4 of the 6 seasons, win a World Series and another AL Pennant. His run all started in the year of 1980, where he won 12 games and saved 33 games, finished 68 games and pitched in 75 games- all AL highs. The fact that he threw 128 1/3 innings allowed him to finish 5th in the AL Cy Young vote and 8th in the AL MVP. The 1981 season gets thrown out, but by no means was it the fault of Quisenberry. The strike shortened everybody's season and the fact that Dan pitched to a career low 1.73 ERA had littler meaning since he appeared in just 40 games.
He would appear in 72 games in 1982, winning 9. He would lead the AL in games finished (68) and saves (35). All while pitching in 136 2/3 innings. He would finish 3rd in the AL Cy Young voting and 9th in the AL MVP. 1983 may have been his best season even though the Royals did not make the playoffs. He was 5-3, 1.94 in a LL 69 games, 62 GF and 45 saves, which was a career high. He also threw a career high 139 innings, finishing 2nd in the Cy Young voting and 6th in the MVP. In what seemed to be the year of the AL reliever, his numbers were neck and neck with Willie Hernandez of the Detroit Tigers in 1984. He was 6-3, 2.64 in 72 games and 67 games finished. He threw 129 1/3 innings and led the AL with his 44 saves. He finished runner up in the AL Cy Young to Hernandez and finished 3rd in the AL MVP voting. Finally in 1985, he was 8-9, 2.37 while leading the AL with 82 games pitched, 76 games finished and 37 saves. He also pitched 129 innings for the Royals as they won their first World Series Championship. He once again finished 3rd in the AL Cy Young voting.
His dominance seldom gets the credit it deserves. Find another reliever who had even his dominance from 1982-1985. Even the best didn't throw 125+ innings every season. Quisenberry loses some credit since he was never a strikeout pitcher, finishing with only 379 Ks in over 1000 innings of work. But tell me the seasons of 1982-1985 weren't impressive. Add in the fact that he had 2 #2s and 2 #3s in a 4 year stretch of the AL Cy Young Award shows how dominant he has and also proves he got the respect he deserves when he pitched. Though Quisennberry is not a Hall of Famer, hopefully the reader now understands, like I do, why he gets as much consideration though he did not dominate for a long time. Such a shame he has almost been gone for 16 years.