Weekly Dime: Top 10 Relievers All-Time

The algorithm to create this list was based on stats, consistency, durability, dominance, clutch-ness, post season, and legacy. The closer position may be one of the most difficult in baseball due to the consistent, high-pressured moments they face when entering a game. Their job is self-explanatory- finish the game with a short lead no matter how high the stakes. A team’s best reliever is their closer and these are the top 10 best relievers of all time.

Honorable Mentions:

Craig Kimbrel, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jonathan Papelbon, Dan Quisenberry, Joe Nathan, Aroldis Chapman, Sparky Lyle, Robb Nen, Troy Percival, John Smoltz, Kenley Jansen

10. John Franco

424 career saves (5th all-time, most by left-hander), 4x All-Star, 3x NL Saves Leader, 2x NL Rolaids Relief Man Award, World Series Champion

Franco’s 1,119 career games pitched (National League record, 4th in major league history) Career: 975 strikeouts, ERA: 2.89, innings pitched: 1,245. Postseason: 2-0, 1 save, 1.88 ERA in 15 appearances.

9. Francisco Rodriguez

437 career saves (4th all-time), 6x All-Star, 3x AL saves leader, 2x Al Rolaids Relief Man Award, World Series Champion

K-Rod’s 62 saves (single-season record) Career: 1,142 strikeouts, ERA: 2.86, innings pitched: 976. Postseason: 5-4, ERA: 2.95, 49 strikeouts, 3 saves, 26 appearances

8. Bruce Sutter

6x All-Star, 5x NL saves leader, 4x NL Rolaids Relief Man Award, NL Cy Young Award, 300 saves, World Series Champion

Sutter’s career: 861 strikeouts, ERA: 2.83, innings pitched; 1,042, Postseason: 2-0, ERA: 3.00, 7 strikeouts, 3 saves, 6 appearances

7. Billy Wagner

7x All-Star, NL Rolaids Relief Award, 422 saves (6th all-time)

“Billy the Kid” career: 1,196, ERA: 2.31, innings pitched: 903. Postseason: 1-1, 13 strikeouts, 3 saves, 14 appearances

6. Goose Gossage

9x All-Star, 3x AL saves leader, AL Rolaids Relief Man Award, 310 saves, World Series Champion

Goose career: 1,502 strikeouts, ERA: 3.01, innings pitched: 1,809. Postseason: 2-1, ERA: 2.87, 29 strikeouts, 8 saves, 19 appearances

5. Lee Smith

7x All-Star, 4x saves leader, 3x Rolaids Relief Man Award, 478 career saves (3rd all-time)

Smith’s career: 1,251 strikeouts, ERA: 3.03, 1,289 innings pitched. Postseason: 0-2, ERA: 8.44. 7 strikeouts, 1 save, 4 appearances

4. Dennis Eckersley

6x All-Star, 2x MLB saves leader, 2x Rolaids Relief Man Award, 390 saves, AL MVP, AL Cy Young Award, ALCS MVP, World Series Champion

“Eck”‘s career: 2,401 strikeouts, ERA: 3.50, 3,285 innings pitched. Postseason: 1-3, ERA: 3.00, 36 innings pitched, 22 strikeouts, 15 saves, 28 appearances

3. Rollie Fingers

7x All-Star, 4x Rolaids Relief Man Award, 3x MLB save leader, AL MVP, AL Cy Young Award, World Series MVP, 341 saves

Fingers’ career: 1,299 strikeouts, ERA: 2.90, 1,701 innings pitched. Postseason: 4-4, ERA: 2.35, 57 innings pitched, 45 strikeouts, 9 saves, 30 appearances

2. Trevor Hoffman

7x All-Star, 2x NL Rolaids Relief Man Award, 2x NL saves leader, 601 saves (2nd all-time)

Hoffman’s career: 1,133 strikeouts, ERA: 2.87, 1,089 innings pitched, Postseason: 1-2, ERA: 3.46, 14 strikeouts, 4 saves, 12 appearances

1. Mariano Rivera

13x All-Star, 5x AL Rolaids Relief Man award, 3x MLB saves leader, 3x Delivery Man of the Year, AL Comeback Player of the Year, 5x World Series Champion, World Series MVP, ALCS MVP, 652 career saves (1st all-time)

“Sandman” career: 1,173 strikeouts, ERA: 2.21, 1,283 innings pitched, 1.00 WHIP. Postseason: 8-1, ERA: 0.70, 110 strikeouts, 42 saves, 96 appearances


  • Ryan_Hughes

    Passionate storyteller and lifelong Royals, Chiefs, and Mizzou Tiger fan. Graduate of Chicago's Second City Conservatory and selected writer for the CBS Diversity Showcase. A member of the sketch comedy group, "Genuine Jerks". Founder of Planet H Productions located in Southwest Missouri.

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