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Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Top 50: #24, JJ Putz

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“The whole key is to slow things down.”

JJ Putz
JJ Putz

  • Avg ranking (high/low/most common): 25.76 (7/44/30)
  • Seasons: 2003-2014
  • Stats: 572 games, 566.2 IP, 3.08 ERA, 138 ERA+, 13.2 bWAR
  • Best season: 2007 – 68 Games, 71.2 IP, 1.38 ERA, 319 ERA+, 4.0 bWAR(40 saves)

What was his nickname? J.J.Putz had a different nickname for each season of his career, ranging from “John Jacob Jingleheimer Putz” to a simple “JJ.” His trademark is a little tuft of hair below his lower lip.

He was a closer. He had more pitches than most closers. His frequent pitches were 4-seam fastball, sinker, and split (Brooks Baseball).

Less frequent pitches were his slider and curve. In addition, he threw 2-seam fastballs and cutters to lefties (Wikipedia).

JJ Putz ranks second among all-time D-back relievers. Using Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) as a measure, JJ Putz pitched better (2.85 FIP) for the D-backs than any other reliever before Archie Bradley (2.61 FIP). Based on three measures (FIP to represent pure pitching skill, RE-24 to represent relief situation skill, and SD/MD to represent consistency), JJ Putz ranks second among all D-back relievers (see chart). And JJ Putz ranks second for most career saves (83) for the D-backs.

Data from FanGraphs

His best season as a D-back was 2011.

Closer Putz and setup man David Hernandez locked down wins for the D-backs. “[They were] ...one of the best 1-2 bullpen combinations in all of baseball not named Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters.” —James Attwood.

“He was a huge, huge part of why the team was able to go 84-0 - let me repeat that, 84-0!! - when leading after eight innings in 2011, on its way to winning [eight games ahead of the Giants] the National League West for the last time to date. In save situations that season, J.J. held batters to a line of .184/.236/.288, struck out 49 in 46 innings and had a 1.57 ERA.” —Jim McLennan.

His best career season was 2007.

Looking at metrics for whole seasons, 2007 was his best season. Let’s look at some of his metrics for 2007.

JJ Putz, His Best Career Season

Metric JJ Putz 2007
Metric JJ Putz 2007
saves 40
save percentage 95.2%
shutdown/meltdown 19.5   (39/2)
goose-egg conversion 96.5%   (28/29)
strikeouts per 9 innings 10.3
homers per 9 innings  0.8
ERA+ 319

Memorable moments in 2007.

JJ Putz had 30 consecutive saves. He exceeded Mariner Eddie Guardado’s consecutive saves.

JJ Putz earned a hold in the All-Star game.

On July 28, 2007 JJ Putz threw a pitch measured at 101.6 mph to Nick Swisher in the ninth inning.

JJ Putz was a leader through his entire career. In June of 2014, the D-backs released JJ Putz. His departure was felt by players and fans.

“... his presence off the field was as much a positive as any performance on it. He was the captain of the bullpen, and while the term “veteran presence” is much-derided, this is one case where it seems to have been a genuine plus, mentoring younger pitchers, etc. “ — Jim McLennan.

He will always be known as Mr. Baseball.

Putz led Trenton High School to the 1994 Division 2 state championship. He graduated in 1995 and won the Mr. Baseball award for the state of Michigan.

Where is he now?

On November 6, 2014, JJ Putz rejoined the Diamondbacks as a Special Assistant to CEO Derrick Hall. Putz’s role included appearances on behalf of the D-backs, interacting with corporate sponsors and fans, and assisting in the baseball operations department.

Based on his tweets, he spends most of his time in Arizona and visits Michigan.