The Top 10 MLB Closers of All-Time

The Top 10 MLB Closers of All-Time

The Top 10 MLB Closers of All-Time

Photo by Rich Schultz

Throughout the history of Major League Baseball (MLB), an effective closer on a team is vital to ensure success when leading games as time ticks away. MLB closers have played critical roles in games and seasons, and the top 10 appear on this list because of their impact and their success at shutting teams down.

1. Mariano Rivera

  • Team and Years Played: New York Yankees (1995-2013)
  • Stats: 652 career saves, 2.21 ERA; struck out a batter per inning in his career
  • Career highlights: 13-time All-Star, Rolaids Relief Man of the Year (1977-79, '80 and '90), five World Series championships
  • Analysis: Rivera's efficiency and wicked-cut fastball made him a legend of the sport. But he was so much more than just his stats; he was also essential to the success of this Yankees team.

2. Trevor Hoffman

  • Team(s)/Years: San Diego Padres, 1993-2008; Milwaukee Brewers, 2009-2010
  • Career Stats: 601 Saves, 2.87 ERA, 1,133 Ks
  • Notable Accomplishments: 7-time All-Star, Rolaids Relief Man Award (2x)
  • Analysis: Hoffman spent 18 seasons utterly dominating with his devastating changeup on the mound and earned a reputation as a respected clubhouse leader.

3. Lee Smith

  • Team(s) & Years Played: Chicago Cubs (1980-87), Boston Red Sox (88-90), St. Louis Cardinals 1990
  • Career Stats: 478 career saves, a 3.03 ERA, and 1,251 Ks
  • Accomplishments: (7-time All-Star, 3 Rolaids Relief Man Award)
  • Analysis: He was a veritable force on the mound, and his influence transcended all eight teams he played for and left an indelible imprint on each of them.

4. Francisco Rodriguez

  • Team(s) (Years Played): Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2002-08), New York Mets (09-11),
  • Stats: 437 career saves, 2.86 ERA, I1,165 SO
  • Achievements: 6x all-star, MLB single-season Saves Record (62)
  • Analysis: Rodriguez earned a reputation for his quirky pitching motion and big-game propensities during 16 decorated seasons in the majors. His imprint on the game was so incredibly steady and durable.

5. John Franco

  • Team: 1984-89 Cincinnati Reds; 1990-2002 New York Mets
  • Total Statistics: 424 saves, 2.89 ERA, and became the third pitcher to eclipse more than one thousand strikeouts in a professional baseball career at nine hundred seventy-five K's (975).
  • Highlights: 4X AS, NL Rolaids Relief Man Award
  • Analysis: Franco's ability to remain the same effective closer for his whole career underscored how reliably good he was in late-inning spots, particularly during seasons with New York.

6. Billy Wagner

  • Team(s) & Years Played: Houston Astros (1995-2003), Philadelphia Phillies (2004-05) and More.
  • Career Stats: 422 saves, 2.31 ERA, 1,196 SOs
  • Accomplishments: Seven-time all-star, 2003 NL Rolaids Relief Man Award

7. Dennis Eckersley

  • Teams (Years Played): Cleveland Indians (1975-77), Oakland Athletics (1987-95) and more
  • Stats: 390 career saves, 3.50 ERA and 2,401 strikeouts
  • Achievements: 6-time All-Star, 100 complete games, 2,401 strikeouts and a 3.50 ERA

8. Joe Nathan

  • Teams & Years Played: San Francisco Giants (years of play 1999-2003), Minnesota Twins( years of play 2004-2011) 
  • Career Stats: 377 saves, 2.87 ERA, highest strikeout rate in SoxProspects history
  • Claim to Fame: 6X All-Star, Back-To-Back Rolaids Relief Man Award Winner.

9. Jonathan Papelbon

  • Team(s) & Years Played: Boston Red Sox (2005-2011), Philadelphia Phillies (2012-present), and more.
  • Stats: Record 368 career saves, 2.44 ERA, and striking out over a batter per inning (808 K other thrown)
  • Claim to Fame: 6-time All-Star, AL Rolaids Relief Man Award Winer

10. Rollie Fingers

  • Teams:  Oakland Athletics 1968-1976, San Diego Padres 1977-1980, Milwaukee Brewers 1981-85
  • Overall Stats: 341 saves and a career ERA of just under 2.90; Ks total in the low-1300 range
  • Accolades: 7 All-Stars, Rolaids Relief Man Award (3x)

 

These top 10 MLB closers in history leave a legacy of skill, leadership, and resilience. Many of their efforts have swung the result in thousands of games and changed what it means to close out victories at the Major League Baseball level. The distinctive way they go about their work and the reputation they have cultivated over time have etched them a special place in baseball history, never to be erased-and become treasured by many generations of ballplayers who will forever flock around to get any morsel or walk-off moment.


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