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The Diamondbacks and Saves: A Blast From the Past

So I got bored again and started to think about how awesome J.J. Putz is. He's already a perfect 9/9 in save opportunities and, barring an injury, will probably be our first full-time closer in over three years. Thinking about that, I decided to investigate into just how well our "closers" have fared up to the leagues best throughout our franchise's history. Needless to say, we're very lucky to have J.J. Putz right now...


(Click to enlarge)


So, please, pardon the cheesy Craig Robinson ripoff and follow me after the jump for more analysis...

**Each block represents four saves**

Nearly every season in our brief franchise's history has seen a closer-by-committee. It even got to a point in 2005 where three of our relievers were getting saves as a group. Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon, and Brian Bruney had 15, 14, and 12 saves respectively that season. Matt Mantei made some strong runs in 2000 and 2003 but injuries plagued him during his entire tenure with the team. Gregg Olson was a solid closer in 1998 but, well, no one remembers a thing about him. For the most part, there's only two major seasons for us to take a look at, 2002 and 2005:

In 2002 Byung-Hyun Kim, fresh off of an insane World Series, was tabbed with closing games for another season as Matt Mantei had undergone Tommy John surgery. Kim responded by setting a franchise record 36 saves and posted a 2.04 ERA for the season. Additionally, Kim had 92 strike outs in just 84 innings for a scary good 9.9 SO/9 rate. Also, on May 11th, 2002, against the Phillies, he became the 32nd Major League pitcher to pitch an immaculate inning. He was even an All-Star. He did it all. The organization responded by converting Kim into a starter to begin the 2003 season and then traded him for Shea Hillenbrand early in the season.

In 2007, Jose Valverde was officially handed the closer's role over Jorge Julio. Julio had taken the spot the season before when Valverde was considered to be "too wild and inconsistent" but he too struggled with command and was chased out of the spot by the end of 2006. After grasping the spot once again, Valverde proved his worth and not only passed Matt Mantei for the franchise record in saves (78) but lead the entire league with 47at the end of the season. The organization responded by trading Valverde in the offseason for Chad Qualls, Chris Burke, and Juan Gutierrez.

Aside from that, one other thing pops out at me when I see the graph. If your last name doesn't end in Rivera or Rodriguez, you're probably not going to lead the league more than once. The save is such a trivial stat at times and can be relatively misleading. For example, Mariano Rivera already has two "one-out saves" this season. A lot of people argue that a save isn't even meaningful unless the threat is truly there. Whatever the case is, I wanted to find out how often teams are represented with single season save leaders. Here's the top 97:


Games Saved
Single Season Leaders

Top (97)

Francisco Rodriguez 62 2008 Los Angeles Angels AL 1
Bobby Thigpen 57 1990 Chicago White Sox AL 2
Eric Gagne 55 2003 Los Angeles Dodgers NL 3
John Smoltz 55 2002 Atlanta Braves NL  
Trevor Hoffman 53 1998 San Diego Padres NL 5
Randy Myers 53 1993 Chicago Cubs NL  
Mariano Rivera 53 2004 New York Yankees AL  
Eric Gagne 52 2002 Los Angeles Dodgers NL 8
Rod Beck 51 1998 Chicago Cubs NL 9
Dennis Eckersley 51 1992 Oakland Athletics AL  
Mariano Rivera 50 2001 New York Yankees AL 11
Francisco Cordero 49 2004 Texas Rangers AL 12
Rod Beck 48 1993 San Francisco Giants NL 13
Dennis Eckersley 48 1990 Oakland Athletics AL  
Brian Fuentes 48 2009 Los Angeles Angels AL  
Jeff Shaw 48 1998 Cincinnati Reds NL  
Los Angeles Dodgers NL
Brian Wilson
48 2010 San Francisco Giants
Heath Bell
47 2010 San Diego Padres
NL 18
Armando Benitez 47 2004 Florida Marlins NL
Chad Cordero 47 2005 Washington Nationals NL  
Jason Isringhausen 47 2004 St. Louis Cardinals NL  
Joe Nathan 47 2009 Minnesota Twins AL  
Francisco Rodriguez 47 2006 Los Angeles Angels AL  
Lee Smith 47 1991 St. Louis Cardinals NL  
Jose Valverde 47 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks NL  
Tom Gordon 46 1998 Boston Red Sox AL 26
Bryan Harvey 46 1991 California Angels AL  
Trevor Hoffman 46 2006 San Diego Padres NL  
Jose Mesa 46 1995 Cleveland Indians AL  
Dave Righetti 46 1986 New York Yankees AL  
Lee Smith 46 1993 New York Yankees AL  
St. Louis Cardinals NL
Mike Williams 46 2002 Pittsburgh Pirates NL  
Antonio Alfonseca 45 2000 Florida Marlins NL 33
Joe Borowski 45 2007 Cleveland Indians AL  
Dennis Eckersley 45 1988 Oakland Athletics AL  
Eric Gagne 45 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers NL  
Eddie Guardado 45 2002 Minnesota Twins AL  
Bryan Harvey 45 1993 Florida Marlins NL  
Jose Mesa 45 2002 Philadelphia Phillies NL  
Jeff Montgomery 45 1993 Kansas City Royals AL  
Randy Myers 45 1997 Baltimore Orioles AL  
Robb Nen 45 2001 San Francisco Giants NL  
Dan Quisenberry 45 1983 Kansas City Royals AL  
Mariano Rivera 45 1999 New York Yankees AL  
Francisco Rodriguez 45 2005 Los Angeles Angels  AL  
Kazuhiro Sasaki 45 2001 Seattle Mariners AL  
John Smoltz 45 2003 Atlanta Braves NL  
Rafael Soriano
45 2010 Tampa Bay Rays
Bruce Sutter 45 1984 St. Louis Cardinals NL  
Duane Ward 45 1993 Toronto Blue Jays AL  
Bob Wickman 45 2005 Cleveland Indians AL  
Jeff Brantley 44 1996 Cincinnati Reds NL 52
Francisco Cordero 44 2007 Milwaukee Brewers NL  
Mark Davis 44 1989 San Diego Padres NL  
Billy Koch 44 2002 Oakland Athletics AL  
Joe Nathan 44 2004 Minnesota Twins AL  
Dan Quisenberry 44 1984 Kansas City Royals AL  
Mariano Rivera 44 2009 New York Yankees AL  
John Smoltz 44 2004 Atlanta Braves NL  
Jose Valverde 44 2008 Houston Astros NL  
Billy Wagner 44 2003 Houston Astros NL  
Todd Worrell 44 1996 Los Angeles Dodgers NL  
Armando Benitez 43 2001 New York Mets NL 63
Dennis Eckersley 43 1991 Oakland Athletics AL  
Keith Foulke 43 2003 Oakland Athletics AL  
Roberto Hernandez 43 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays AL  
Trevor Hoffman 43 2000 San Diego Padres NL  
Trevor Hoffman 43 2001 San Diego Padres NL  
Trevor Hoffman 43 2005 San Diego Padres NL  
Doug Jones 43 1990 Cleveland Indians AL  
Jose Mesa 43 2004 Pittsburgh Pirates NL  
Joe Nathan 43 2005 Minnesota Twins AL  
Robb Nen 43 2002 San Francisco Giants NL  
Mariano Rivera 43 2005 New York Yankees AL  
Mariano Rivera 43 1997 New York Yankees AL  
Jeff Shaw 43 2001 Los Angeles Dodgers NL  
Lee Smith 43 1992 St. Louis Cardinals NL  
Joakim Soria
43 2010 Kansas City Royals
John Wetteland 43 1996 New York Yankees AL  
John Wetteland 43 1999 Texas Rangers AL  
John Wetteland 43 1993 Montreal Expos NL  
Mitch Williams 43 1993 Philadelphia Phillies NL  
Rick Aguilera 42 1991 Minnesota Twins AL 83
Heath Bell 42 2009 San Diego Padres NL  
Keith Foulke 42 2001 Chicago White Sox AL  
Trevor Hoffman 42 2007 San Diego Padres NL  
Trevor Hoffman 42 1996 San Diego Padres NL  
Todd Jones 42 2000 Detroit Tigers AL  
Brad Lidge 42 2005 Houston Astros NL  
Derek Lowe 42 2000 Boston Red Sox AL  
Jose Mesa 42 2001 Philadelphia Phillies NL  
Troy Percival 42 1998 Anaheim Angels AL  
Jeff Reardon 42 1988 Minnesota Twins AL  
Jeff Shaw 42 1997 Cincinnati Reds NL  
Joakim Soria 42 2008 Kansas City Royals AL  
John Wetteland 42 1998 Texas Rangers AL  
Rick Aguilera 41 1992 Minnesota Twins AL 97
Danys Baez 41 2005 Tampa Bay Devil Rays AL  
Armando Benitez 41 2000 New York Mets NL  
Danny Graves 41 2004 Cincinnati Reds NL  
Eddie Guardado 41 2003 Minnesota Twins AL  
Trevor Hoffman 41 2004 San Diego Padres NL  
Bobby Jenks 41 2006 Chicago White Sox AL  
Jose Jimenez 41 2002 Colorado Rockies NL
Brad Lidge 41 2008 Philadelphia Phillies NL  
Robb Nen 41 2000 San Francisco Giants NL  
Jonathan Papelbon 41 2008 Boston Red Sox AL  
Jeff Reardon 41 1985 Montreal Expos NL  
Ugueth Urbina 41 1999 Montreal Expos NL  
Brian Wilson 41 2008 San Francisco Giants NL  
Stats current through 2010


Teams Represented: Number of Appearances
Anaheim Angels/ California Angels/ Los Angeles Angels: 5
Arizona Diamondbacks: 1
Atlanta Braves: 3
Baltimore Orioles: 1
Boston Red Sox: 3
Chicago Cubs: 2
Chicago White Sox: 3
Cincinnati Reds: 4
Cleveland Indians: 4
Colorado Rockies: 1
Detroit Tigers: 1
Florida Marlins: 3
Houston Astros: 3
Kansas City Royals: 5
Los Angeles Dodgers: 6
Milwaukee Brewers: 1
Minnesota Twins: 8
Montreal Expos: 3
New York Mets: 2
New York Yankees: 9
Oakland Athletics: 6
Philadelphia Phillies: 4
Pittsburgh Pirates: 2
San Diego Padres: 11
San Francisco Giants: 6
Seattle Mariners: 1
St. Louis Cardinals: 5
Tampa Bay Rays/ Devil Rays: 3
Texas Rangers: 3
Toronto Blue Jays: 1
Washington Nationals: 1


Not surprising to see the Padres (Hoffman) and the Yankees (Rivera) well represented. I was a bit surprised, however, that the Blue Jays and Orioles only has one and that Tampa Bay has three.