Mariano Rivera Is the Best Closer Ever

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera picked up his 602nd save in a 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles Monday afternoon, making him the all-time saves leader.

While the future Hall-of-Famer turned 41 years old this year, he is not showing any signs of slowing down.  Hell, when it’s all said and done, Rivera may have over 700 saves!

So now comes the obvious question, is Rivera the greatest close of all time?  The answer: of-friggin-course!

I mean, it’s kind of an insult to even ask that question in the first place.  Take a look at the table below and see for yourselves…

1. Mariano Rivera 602
2. Trevor Hoffman 601
3. Lee Smith 478
4. John Franco 424
5. Billy Wagner 422
6. Dennis Eckersley 390
7. Jeff Reardon 367
8. Troy Percival 358
9. Randy Myers 347
10. Rollie Fingers+ 341
11. John Wetteland 330
12. Roberto Hernandez 326
13. Francisco Cordero 323
14. Jose Mesa 321
15. Todd Jones 319
16. Rick Aguilera 318
17. Robb Nen 314
18. Tom Henke 311
19. Rich Gossage+ 310
20. Jeff Montgomery 304

*Only Rivera and Cordero are active.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. JAG says:

    I agree that Rivera is great but just going by saves only does a disservice to the old school relievers. Guys like Gossage would show up in the 7th inning and finish the game. They were also called on to pitch when the team was losing or other non save situations. It wasn’t until the late 80’s that closers were used exclusively in 9th inning save situations.

    Guys like Goose, Lyle and Fingers would come in with runners on base and the game in serious jeopardy. In Rivera’s last ten appearances, he has come in to pitch the ninth with a lead and no one on base. Not to take anything away from him; closers are just used differently now and the save is much easier to get today.

    Yes, Rivera may be the best, but I don’t think anyone considers Hoffman the 2nd greatest closer of all time. Certainly, John Franco isn’t fourth.

    1. klownboy says:

      Relief pitchers like Gossage were called “firemen” back in the day because they put out potential fires that were men in scoring position with no outs with the game on the line…

  2. George says:

    It should also be noted that Rivera pitched for the most successful team of the last 15 years. If he were pitching for the Pirates or Expos/Nationals, his saves would be cut in half.

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