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Save (baseball)

In baseball, a save (abbreviated SV or S) is credited to a pitcher who finishes a game for the winning team under certain prescribed circumstances. The number of saves, or percentage of save opportunities successfully completed, is an oft-cited statistic of relief pitchers. It first became an official Major League Baseball statistic in .

Usage

In baseball statistics, the term save is used to indicate the successful maintenance of a lead by a relief pitcher, usually the closer, until the end of the game. A save is a statistic credited to a relief pitcher, as set forth in Rule 10.19 of the Rules of Baseball. That rule states the official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:

  1. He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team
  2. He is not the winning pitcher
  3. He is credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched
  4. He satisfies one of the following conditions:
    1. He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning.
    2. He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
    3. He pitches for at least three innings

If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, but he may be credited as the winning pitcher if his team comes back to win. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

If a relief pitcher satisfies all of the criteria for a save, except he does not finish the game, he will often be credited with a hold (not an officially recognized statistic by Major League Baseball).

Save rules have changed over the years; the above rules are the current as defined in Section 10.19 of Major League Baseball's Official Rules. The statistic was formally introduced in , although research has identified saves earned prior to that point.

A blown save (abbreviated BS or B) is charged to a pitcher who enters a game in a situation which permits him to earn a save (a "save situation"), but who instead allows the tying run to score. Note that if the tying run was scored by a runner who was already on base when the new pitcher entered the game, that new pitcher will be charged with a blown save even though the run will not be charged to the new pitcher, but rather to the pitcher who allowed that runner to reach base.

If that same pitcher also allows the go-ahead run to reach base and score, and if his team does not come back to tie or gain a lead in the game, said pitcher will be charged with both the loss (as in any other similar situation) and a blown save. The blown save is not an officially recognized statistic, but many sources keep track of them. Once a pitcher blows a save, he is no longer eligible to earn a save in that game (since the lead that he was trying to "save" has disappeared), although he can earn a win if his team regains the lead. For this reason, most closers' records include a few wins. Closers make the majority of their appearances with their team ahead, so a loss usually includes a blown save.

If a pitcher enters a game in a save situation (for a team leading by three runs or fewer) in an inning which is not the last (e.g. in a regulation nine inning home game, pitching the top of the eighth inning), and his team later scores one or more runs to extend their lead beyond three runs, then as long as the same pitcher pitches until the end of the game, he is still credited with the save. As the various roles of relief pitchers have changed since the 1960s, closers who often pitch two or more innings have become increasingly rare; although exceptions remain.

A pitcher also cannot create his own save situation. For instance, if he enters the game with a lead too large for a save, he would not make himself eligible for a save by surrendering enough runs to contract the lead to within save range. It must be a save situation when he enters the game, or he will not be able to earn one.

A notable occurrence of the "three innings pitched" save scenario is the save earned by Wes Littleton in the Texas Rangers' 30–3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on August 22, 2007. Littleton entered the game in the seventh inning, when the Rangers had a 14–3 lead. The Rangers subsequently scored an additional 16 runs, resulting in the final 27 run margin. However, despite the final score of the game, because Littleton pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, he was credited with the save.

Save leaders in Major League Baseball

Bold denotes active players.

300-career-saves club

Through 2008 season

Rank Player Saves Team(s) Year(s)
1 Trevor Hoffman 554 Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres 1993–present
2 Mariano Rivera 482 New York Yankees 1995–present
3 Lee Smith 478 Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos 1980–1997
4 John FrancoL 424 Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Houston Astros 1984–2005
5 Dennis EckersleyH 390 Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals 1975–1998
6 Billy WagnerL 385 Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets 1995–present
7 Jeff Reardon 367 New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees 1979–1994
8 Troy Percival 352 California/Anaheim Angels, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays 1995–2005, 2007–present
9 Randy MyersL 347 New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays 1985–1998
10 Rollie FingersH 341 Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers 1968–1985
11 John Wetteland 330 Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers 1989–2000
12 Roberto Hernández 326 Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers 1991–2007
13 José Mesa 321 Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers 1987, 1990–2007
14 Todd Jones 319 Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins 1993–present
15 Rick Aguilera 318 New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs 1985–2000
16 Robb Nen 314 Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, San Francisco Giants 1993–2002
17 Tom Henke 311 Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals 1982–1995
18 Rich GossageH 310 Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners 1972–1994
19 Jeff Montgomery 304 Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals 1987–1999
20 Doug Jones 303 Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics 1982, 1986–2000
21 Bruce SutterH 300 Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves 1976–1986, 1988

L denotes left-handed pitcher.
H denotes membership in Baseball Hall of Fame.

Single season

Rank Player Saves Team Year
1 Francisco Rodríguez 62 Los Angeles Angels 2008
2 Bobby Thigpen 57 Chicago White Sox 1990
3 Eric Gagné 55 Los Angeles Dodgers 2003
John Smoltz 55 Atlanta Braves 2002
5 Mariano Rivera 53 New York Yankees 2004
Trevor Hoffman 53 San Diego Padres 1998
Randy MyersL 53 Chicago Cubs 1993
8 Eric Gagné 52 Los Angeles Dodgers 2002
9 Rod Beck 51 Chicago Cubs 1998
Dennis Eckersley 51 Oakland Athletics 1992
11 Mariano Rivera 50 New York Yankees 2001

L denotes left-handed pitcher.

Consecutive

  1. Eric Gagné, Los Angeles Dodgers (–) – 84
  2. Tom Gordon, Boston Red Sox (–) – 54
  3. Brad Lidge, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies (–) – 45†*
  4. Rod Beck, San Francisco Giants (–) – 41
  5. Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres (–) – 41
  6. Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics (–) – 40

† denotes the streak was achieved over the course of two or more seasons.
* denotes active streak

Blown save leaders in Major League Baseball

Career

As of August 9, 2006:

  1. Rich "Goose" Gossage – 112
  2. Rollie Fingers – 109
  3. Jeff Reardon – 106
  4. Lee Smith – 103
  5. Bruce Sutter – 101
  6. John FrancoL – 100
  7. Sparky LyleL – 86
  8. Gene Garber – 82
  9. Kent Tekulve – 81
  10. Gary LavelleL – 80

L denotes left-handed pitcher.

Single season

  1. Rollie Fingers, Oakland Athletics (1976) – 14
  2. Bruce Sutter, Chicago Cubs (1978) – 14
  3. Bob Stanley, Boston Red Sox (1983) – 14
  4. Ron Davis, Minnesota Twins (1984) – 14
  5. John HillerL, Detroit Tigers (1976) – 13
  6. Goose Gossage, New York Yankees (1983) – 13
  7. Jeff Reardon, Montréal Expos (1986) – 13
  8. Dan PlesacL, Milwaukee Brewers (1987) – 13
  9. Dave RighettiL, New York Yankees (1987) – 13

L denotes left-handed pitcher.

Value

During the 2008 baseball season Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels pursued the single-season saves record, inventor of the save statistic Jerome Holtzman passed away, and discussion erupted about the value of the save as a statistic. According to statistical measures other than saves, 2008 is not Rodriguez's best single season, and he is not the best relief pitcher in 2008—even on his own team. Instead, he has pitched for a team that provides many save opportunities, and is used almost exclusively in save situations.

Furthermore, the use of the save statistic has changed the way people perceive the role of a reliever, and some believe this change has been for the worse. ESPN.com columnist Jim Caple has even argued that the save statistic has turned the closer position into "the most overrated position in sports". Caple and others contend that using one's best reliever in situations such as a three run lead in the ninth—when a team will almost certainly win even with a lesser pitcher—is foolish, and that using a closer in the traditional "fireman" role exemplified by pitchers such as Goose Gossage is far wiser. (A "fireman" situation is men on base in a tied or close game, hence a reliever ending such a threat is "putting out the fire.") Managers may be afraid of trying such moves due to them occasionally backfiring and leading to criticism. Closers themselves are also reluctant to enter games in non-save spots because of the huge monetary value of saves in the free agent market.

See also

References

External links

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