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Arizona Diamondbacks 20th Anniversary Team: Closer

The last installment of the 20th Anniversary Team vote here on the Snake Pit will be the closer. The Diamondbacks have certainly had their fill of closer drama in 20 years, with Byung-Hyun Kim’s bad luck in the 2001 World Series, the Heath Bell and Fernando Rodney Experience, and Brandon Lyon’s laughable attempts to pitch in the 9th inning. This vote will just be between the top 5 candidates. I intentionally excluded 1-year closers like Fernando Rodney (2017), Garrett Olson (1998), and Chad Qualls (2009) in the vote considering the rotating door of closers in Arizona.

Brad Ziegler: Ziegler’s sidearming sinker generated a lot of value for the Diamondbacks, particularly since batters had trouble lifting the ball in the air against him. His extreme ground ball tendency was a weapon in the back-end of the bullpen, generating an absurd amount of double plays to the point where it’s almost taken for granted. Ziegler was acquired on the deadline in 2011, which also ushered in the Paul Goldschmidt era when Brandon Allen was part of the trade. Ziegler filled in at closer in 2013, 2015, and 2016 and was very good when called upon to close things out even if it wasn’t the ideal role for him.

Byung-Hyun Kim: Most people forget how good Kim was as a Diamondback, since the first thought that comes to mind are the blown saves in Game 4 and Game 5. Kim was an integral part of the 2001 and 2002 teams, locking down games with his submarine style delivery and frisbee slider (imagine Brad Ziegler, except Korean). I do think his career would have ended better if he embraced the closer role and probably run away with this vote.

Jose Valverde: Valverde might be more memorable for his in-game antics which included tying his shoe out of nowhere, caveman-like behavior when he struck out a hitter. His repertoire included an upper 90s heater complemented by a devastating splitter. Valverde struggled with consistency until they simplified his repertoire to be exclusively the two aforementioned pitches. That resulted in a 47 save 2007 season that helped the Diamondbacks win the NL West and make it to the NLCS.

Matt Mantei: Matt Mantei is the forgotten one in the mix, but I’d be stupid to not include him in the vote. The Dbacks acquired him in 1999 from the Marlins and he was really good when he pitched. The problem was availability, which is why Kim got the closer job in 2000-2002. After a stellar 1999 season, Mantei only appeared in 50 games once as a Diamondback in 2003. That year he saved 29 games when Kim decided he didn’t want to close for some reason despite being really good at it.

J.J. Putz: Putz was signed in 2011 to fill in the closer role for a team that finished with 65 wins and a bullpen that belonged in AA. Putz established himself as a top-end closer that year with 45 saves and probably would have been considered an All-Star that year if he didn’t spend the break on the DL (a good move to get him extra rest). Putz was pretty solid his first two seasons in Arizona with 77 saves in 86 chances although an injury limited his availability in 2013 and really was just done after that season.

Top Closers in Dbacks History

Pitcher Years Appearances Saves IP K/BB ERA+ bWAR All-Star
Pitcher Years Appearances Saves IP K/BB ERA+ bWAR All-Star
Jose Valverde 2003-2007 253 98 260 2.98 141 5.6 1
JJ Putz 2011-2014 175 83 160.1 3.87 142 3.5 0
Brad Ziegler 2011-2016 348 62 335.2 2.08 161 7.3 0
Byung-Hyun Kim 2000-2003 245 70 325.2 2.50 136 8.4 1
Matt Mantei 1999-2004 178 74 173.2 2.35 116 2.7 0


Top Closer in Dbacks History

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Brad Ziegler
    (48 votes)
  • 74%
    Byung-Hyun Kim
    (308 votes)
  • 7%
    Jose Valverde
    (30 votes)
  • 3%
    JJ Putz
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    Matt Mantei
    (16 votes)
415 votes total Vote Now