The top 10 Relief Pitchers in MLB History - Fan Arch

The top 10 Relief Pitchers in MLB History

The top 10 Relief Pitchers in MLB History

Relief pitchers play a crucial role in baseball, often coming in during high-pressure situations to secure victories for their teams. Over the years, countless pitchers have excelled in this role, but only a select few have truly etched their names in baseball history. In this article, we will explore the top 10 relief pitchers in MLB history, highlighting their accomplishments and impact on the game.

1. Mariano Rivera

Arguably the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera spent his entire 19-year career with the New York Yankees. With his signature cutter, Rivera dominated opposing batters, amassing a record 652 saves and a career ERA of 2.21. He was a vital part of the Yankees' success, helping them win five World Series championships. Rivera's poise and consistency make him the gold standard for relief pitchers.

2. Trevor Hoffman

Trevor Hoffman, known for his devastating changeup, recorded 601 saves during his career, the second-most in MLB history. Spending the majority of his career with the San Diego Padres, Hoffman was a seven-time All-Star and played a crucial role in the Padres' success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His impact on the game was recognized when he became only the second relief pitcher ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Rollie Fingers

Rollie Fingers was a trailblazer for relief pitchers during the 1970s. Known for his handlebar mustache and his ability to close out games, Fingers won three World Series championships and was named the World Series MVP in 1974. He finished his career with 341 saves and was the first relief pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, which he accomplished in 1981.

4. Goose Gossage

Goose Gossage was a dominant force on the mound during the 1970s and 1980s. With his overpowering fastball and fiery personality, Gossage recorded 310 saves over his 22-year career. He was a nine-time All-Star and played a pivotal role in the New York Yankees' championship run in 1978. Gossage's intensity and ability to consistently shut down opposing hitters make him one of the greatest relief pitchers of all time.

5. Dennis Eckersley

Dennis Eckersley had a remarkable career that spanned both starting and relieving roles. However, it was his tenure as a closer that truly solidified his legacy. Eckersley revolutionized the role of the closer by combining pinpoint control with a devastating slider. He recorded 390 saves, won the Cy Young Award and the American League MVP in 1992, and was a crucial part of the Oakland Athletics' success in the late 1980s.

6. Bruce Sutter

Bruce Sutter was a pioneer of the split-finger fastball, a pitch that baffled hitters throughout his career. He recorded 300 saves and was the first pitcher to reach that milestone. Sutter played for several teams, including the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, and was a six-time All-Star. His ability to dominate hitters with his split-finger fastball makes him one of the greatest relief pitchers in MLB history.

7. Lee Smith

Lee Smith was a dominant force on the mound during his 18-year career. With his overpowering fastball, Smith recorded 478 saves, which was the all-time record when he retired. He played for several teams, including the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals, and was a seven-time All-Star. Smith's durability and ability to consistently close out games make him one of the top relief pitchers in MLB history.

8. Billy Wagner

Billy Wagner was one of the most dominant left-handed relief pitchers in MLB history. With his blazing fastball and devastating slider, Wagner recorded 422 saves over his 16-year career. He was a seven-time All-Star and played for several teams, including the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Mets. Wagner's ability to overpower hitters from the left side of the mound sets him apart as one of the best relief pitchers of all time.

9. John Franco

John Franco, a left-handed relief pitcher, spent the majority of his career with the New York Mets. With his crafty pitching style, Franco recorded 424 saves, which was the most by a left-handed pitcher at the time of his retirement. He was a four-time All-Star and played a vital role in the Mets' success in the 1990s. Franco's longevity and consistency make him one of the top relief pitchers in MLB history.

10. Hoyt Wilhelm

Hoyt Wilhelm was a knuckleball specialist who thrived as a relief pitcher during his career. He recorded 228 saves and was the first relief pitcher to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Wilhelm played for several teams, including the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox, and was a five-time All-Star. His mastery of the knuckleball and his ability to consistently get batters out make him one of the greatest relief pitchers in MLB history.

These top 10 relief pitchers in MLB history have left an indelible mark on the game. Through their dominance on the mound, their ability to shut down opposing batters, and their impact on their respective teams, these pitchers have solidified their place among the all-time greats. Whether it's Mariano Rivera's cutter, Trevor Hoffman's changeup, or Rollie Fingers' handlebar mustache, each pitcher brought their unique style and skill to the game, making them legends in their own right.


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