Does Addison Reed Have What It Takes To Be The Next Elite Closer?

By Matt Malecha
Addison Reed Chicago White Sox
Jesse Johnson- USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, Addison Reed set one goal for himself before spring training began. Then a rookie, Reed was just focused on making the Chicago White Sox roster. The young right-hander not only achieved his goal in 2012 of making the White Sox, but also set a franchise single-season rookie record with 29 saves.

Heading into 2013, Reed is once again giving himself one task to accomplish during spring ball. Being named the Sox closer by manager Robin Ventura is all Reed is concerned about.

Many would say that Reed already has the White Sox closer job in hand. Maybe the only one who doesn’t have this mindset is Reed himself. While in Chicago last weekend for the White Sox annual fan convention known as “SoxFest”, Reed told the media that he feels like he still has to fight for the closer spot, and certainly doesn’t think he has the position on lock.

This kind of thinking is exactly what separates Reed from all the other young closers in Major League Baseball. Always working to get better, and knowing he has to continue to improve is why the Sox 24-year-old pitcher has the potential of being the next elite closer in baseball.

The addition of former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen as the Sox new bullpen coach should help the progression of Reed’s career. Thigpen, who once held the MLB record for saves in a season with 57 in 1990, will be someone Reed can rely on for help in 2013. Having gone through the everyday grind as a closer in the MLB, Thigpen is the perfect man to provide Reed with crucial insight in taking the steps necessary to become an elite closer.

What White Sox fans should be most excited about in regards to Reed as their closer, is that he already has the attitude it takes to lead the league in saves. White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson refers to this as “the look.” When Reed takes the mound in a save opportunity, it’s very apparent he’s completely focused, confident and locked in. This can sometimes be tough to say about closers with little Major League experience. Arguably the hardest skill to obtain, Reed has the moxie that all closers need to succeed.

As far as physical talent, Reed has everything you look for in a lockdown closer. The 6’4, 220 pound reliever fits the part. His lively fastball, which tops out around 96-98mph, along with his nasty slider gives Reed “the stuff” every great closer needs to get outs.

One thing Reed will want to address moving forward is lowering his ERA. In 2012, Reed posted a 4.75 ERA. Although it’s easy not to worry about stats when Reed is racking up saves, bringing down his ERA this year, and beyond, should be a point of emphasis for the Sox’s closer.

With one of baseball’s greatest closers, Mariano Rivera, set to retire in the near future, the door has opened for a new shutdown closer to dominant the game. Could this new top closer be the White Sox Addison Reed? Absolutely. I’m not saying Reed will be as great as Rivera has been; I somewhat doubt anyone will ever be as overpowering as Rivera. However, with the confidence and raw ability Reed has, becoming elite is just a matter of time.

Matt Malecha is a Chicago White Sox Writer for Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.

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