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Exit light, enter night: Mariano Rivera is the all-time saves king

Sep 19, 2011, 4:45 PM EDT

Who will bridge the gap to Mo? Getty Images

Mariano Rivera moved past Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list this afternoon, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Twins to close out a 6-4 victory and record his 602nd career save.

In general saves are an overrated and oftentimes silly stat and Rivera certainly didn’t need the record in order for people to realize what an amazing pitcher he’s been, but there’s definitely a nice symmetry to the best closer in baseball history being the all-time saves leader.

Here’s what the leaderboard now looks like:

Mariano Rivera          602
Trevor Hoffman          601
Lee Smith               478
John Franco             424
Billy Wagner            422

And no one else has 400.

Hoffman held the record for just one season, but Rivera will be atop the list for a long time. Francisco Cordero is second among all active pitchers with 323 saves and the highest total by someone under 30 years old is Francisco Rodriguez with 291.

Rivera will hold the record when he goes into Cooperstown and the way he’s pitching that might not be for a while. Today’s save was his 43rd of the season and Rivera has thrown 59 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 57/7 K/BB ratio. He’s as good as ever at age 41 and 700 saves seems possible, although 1,209 innings with a 2.21 ERA in the regular season and 140 innings with a 0.71 ERA in the postseason tells the story of his greatness even better than his save total.

  1. Lukehart80 - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Thus was the name “Trevor Hoffman” gently swept into the dustbin of history.

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      I’m not saying this SHOULD be the case, but I suspect it will be. How often does Lee Smith get brought up anymore?

    • singingfriar - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

      Just like Babe Ruth once Barry Bonds passed him on the All Time HR list, right?

      • cur68 - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:26 PM

        Not quite the same, is it?

      • singingfriar - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:33 PM

        Barry Bonds thought so: “The only number I care about is Babe Ruth’s. Because as a left-handed hitter, I wiped him out. That’s it. And in the baseball world, Babe Ruth’s everything, right? I got his slugging percentage and I’ll take his home runs and that’s it. Don’t talk about him no more.”

      • cur68 - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Separated by so much time and controversy, do we really need to go over what Bonds had to say and reality? An evident truth doesn’t really need examining or we take Schrödinger at his word and really see if that dang cat survives or not. Prediction; Hoffman will be eclipsed by Rivera & Ruth will never be eclipsed by Bonds.

  2. rexryanisablowhard - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Humble class act and team first guy…well deserved…congrats 42!

  3. southofheaven81 - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:55 PM


    • aceshigh11 - Sep 19, 2011 at 8:57 PM


      Raining Blood would be an awesome entrance theme…that slow-burn buildup to the double-kick frenzy as the pitcher runs out. Too cool!

  4. proudlycanadian - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    A great pitcher and a great person.

  5. pisano - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Good for him,” he’s the best that’s ever been.”

  6. phukyouk - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    Hes like the Derek Jeter of Baseball

  7. Francisco (FC) - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    You know, now that I think about it, “Another one bites the dust” would be great entrance music for a closer.

    • presidentmiraflores - Sep 19, 2011 at 7:35 PM

      In high school band, we would play that after a football win. I’m sure it made the opposing teams feel great to be taunted on their way off the field. C’est la vie.

  8. cur68 - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Way to go Mo. The best I ever saw.

  9. jwbiii - Sep 19, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    For those of you wondering, Russell Martin was the catcher.

    • Bryz - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:26 PM

      But did Jorge Posada play 2nd base?

  10. drewmunny - Sep 19, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    A true class act if there ever was one. I get to channel my grandfather and sit my son down and tell him to pay attention, this man is the greatest there ever was. And we sit together in silence and watch. Congrats, Mo, today I feel proud not only to be a Yankees fan, but a baseball fan, and to know that there are still guys who carry themselves with class and pride, and do the job that is asked of them.

  11. aceshigh11 - Sep 19, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Congratulations from a die-hard Red Sox fan.

    Mariano is a great guy and an amazing athlete. His talent is astounding.

  12. cackalackyank - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    Today 42=1

  13. phukyouk - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    did noone else find it a bit ironic or even creepy that save number 601 came on save number 42 on the season?

    • aceshigh11 - Sep 19, 2011 at 10:08 PM

      Only Mariano could’ve pulled off some numerical wizardry like that. :)

  14. purnellmeagrejr - Sep 20, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Great reliever – interesting he’s only the13th (by my count) highest paid pitcher in Baseball. Shows you how relievers, even closers, even the GREATEST closer ever are valued by Baseball .

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