Everybody knows that Major League Baseball’s 162-game season is by far the longest of any professional sport. While it’s nice to conjecture how the season might end early in the year, it’s nigh impossible to predict that far ahead — a lot can happen over a six- or seven-month period. There will be slumps, injuries, losing streaks, winning streaks, and everything in between, so what’s true now is by no means guaranteed to be true in September.
But for the majority of teams in the MLB, they have now completed one-fourth of the season (approximately 40 games). Just like how a business’s quarterly report will show trends and expectations for the remainder of the year, an MLB team’s first 40 games can be somewhat illuminating.
By this point in the year, almost every team has found its selected closer (the person who regularly pitches the last inning of a close game). However, solid, shutdown closers are difficult to come by. Teams without a closer will try to do it by committee, but that tends to err on the losing side. A good closer is someone who a manager can put into a game in any situation and have complete faith that that player won’t blow the game open by allowing a slew of runs – he saves the game, as the statistics say.
And a good closer doesn’t just have the most saves: He has a low earned run average combined with a low WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) and a solid record. This is not a list of MLB pitchers with the most saves – here are the league’s five best closers not just encompassing the number of saves.