The dominators: Great closer seasons   

Updated: August 6, 2008, 1:17 AM ET

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Every year, we're astounded by the stats put up by closers: Francisco Rodriguez is on a record pace for saves! Joakim Soria is holding opponents to a .147 batting average! Brad Lidge hasn't blown a save!

Thing is, there are several of these seasons every year -- they are no longer unique. As you can see from the chart below, there was a time when compiling an ERA under 2.00, at least 20 saves and a WHIP (walks plus hits allowed per inning) under 1.00 was a great accomplishment. But now that three or four closers do this each season, those numbers don't seem so awe-inspiring. Last season's J.J. Putz and Takashi Saito are this season's Joe Nathan.

Compare Willie Hernandez's remarkable 1984 season with the Tigers to a current-day closer. Hernandez faced 548 batters -- more than the 481 batters Jonathan Papelbon faced in the 2006 and 2007 seasons combined.

Papelbon was dominant, no doubt. But his seasons can't compare to Hernandez's great '84.

[Number in parentheses indicates appearances on the list; BS = blown saves]

THE DOMINATORS: ERA UNDER 2.00, 20-PLUS SAVES, WHIP UNDER 1.00
Pitcher Year Team ERA Saves WHIP G W-L BS IP H BB SO AVG
Joakim Soria 2008 Royals 1.42 31 0.691 47 1-2 2 50.2 25 10 53 .147
Mariano Rivera (4) 2008 Yankees 1.49 26 0.724 44 4-4 0 48.1 30 5 58 .178
Joe Nathan (3) 2008 Twins 1.18 30 0.898 46 0-0 2 45.2 30 11 49 .185
Jonathan Papelbon (2) 2007 Red Sox 1.85 37 0.771 59 1-3 3 58.1 30 15 84 .146
J.J. Putz 2007 Mariners 1.38 40 0.698 68 6-1 2 71.2 37 13 82 .153
Takashi Saito 2007 Dodgers 1.40 39 0.715 63 2-1 4 64.1 33 13 78 .151
B.J. Ryan 2006 Blue Jays 1.37 38 0.857 65 2-2 4 72.1 42 20 86 .169
Mariano Rivera 2006 Yankees 1.80 34 0.960 63 5-5 3 75 61 11 55 .223
Jonathan Papelbon 2006 Red Sox 0.92 35 0.776 59 4-2 6 68.1 40 13 75 .167
Joe Nathan 2006 Twins 1.58 36 0.790 64 7-0 2 68.1 38 16 95 .158
Chad Cordero 2005 Nationals 1.82 47 0.969 74 2-4 7 74.1 55 17 61 .198
Mariano Rivera 2005 Yankees 1.38 43 0.868 71 7-4 4 78.1 50 18 80 .177
Billy Wagner (3) 2005 Phillies 1.51 38 0.837 75 4-3 3 77.2 45 20 87 .165
Joe Nathan 2004 Twins 1.62 44 0.82 73 1-2 3 72.1 48 23 89 .187
Brad Lidge 2004 Astros 1.90 29 0.919 80 6-5 4 94.2 57 30 157 .174
Armando Benitez 2004 Marlins 1.29 47 0.818 64 2-2 4 69.2 36 21 62 .152
Billy Wagner 2003 Astros 1.78 44 0.872 78 1-4 3 86 52 23 105 .169
John Smoltz 2003 Braves 1.12 45 0.870 62 0-2 4 64.1 48 8 73 .204
Eric Gagne (2) 2003 Dodgers 1.20 55 0.692 77 2-3 0 82.1 37 20 137 .133
Eric Gagne 2002 Dodgers 1.97 52 0.862 77 4-1 4 82.1 55 16 114 .189
Robb Nen (2) 2000 Giants 1.50 41 0.848 68 4-3 5 66 37 19 92 .162
Billy Wagner 1999 Astros 1.57 39 0.777 66 4-1 3 74.2 35 23 124 .135
Mariano Rivera 1999 Yankees 1.83 45 0.884 66 4-3 4 69 43 18 52 .176
Robb Nen 1998 Giants 1.52 40 0.947 78 7-7 5 88.2 59 25 110 .180
Mike Jackson 1998 Indians 1.55 40 0.875 69 1-1 5 64 43 13 55 .195
Trevor Hoffman 1998 Padres 1.48 53 0.849 66 4-2 1 73 41 21 86 .165
John Wetteland 1997 Rangers 1.94 31 0.985 61 7-2 6 65 43 21 63 .182
Bryan Harvey (2) 1993 Marlins 1.70 45 0.841 59 1-5 4 69 45 13 73 .186
Dennis Eckersley (3) 1992 A's 1.91 51 0.913 69 7-1 3 80 62 11 93 .211
Bryan Harvey 1991 Angels 1.60 46 0.864 67 2-4 6 78.2 51 17 101 .178
Dennis Eckersley 1990 A's 0.61 48 0.614 63 4-2 2 73.1 41 4 73 .160
Dennis Eckersley 1989 A's 1.56 33 0.607 51 4-0 6 57.2 32 3 55 .162
Jeff Russell 1989 Rangers 1.98 38 0.950 71 6-4 6 72.2 45 24 77 .182
Randy Myers 1988 Mets 1.72 26 0.912 55 7-3 3 68 45 17 69 .190
Willie Hernandez 1984 Tigers 1.92 32 0.941 80 9-3 1 140.1 96 36 112 .194
Dan Quisenberry 1983 Royals 1.94 45 0.928 69 5-3 8 139 118 11 48 .229
Rollie Fingers 1981 Brewers 1.04 28 0.872 47 6-3 6 78 55 13 61 1.98
Goose Gossage (2) 1981 Yankees 0.77 20 0.711 32 3-2 3 46.2 22 14 48 .141
Tug McGraw 1980 Phillies 1.46 20 0.921 57 5-4 5 92.1 62 23 75 .194
Bruce Sutter 1977 Cubs 1.34 31 0.857 62 7-3 9 107.1 69 23 129 .183
Goose Gossage 1977 Pirates 1.62 26 0.955 72 11-9 10 133 78 49 151 .170
Jim Brewer 1971 Dodgers 1.88 22 0.971 55 6-5 5 81.1 55 24 66 1.94
Ted Abernathy 1967 Reds 1.27 28 0.978 70 6-3 6 106.1 63 41 88 .170
Jack Aker 1966 A's 1.99 32 0.965 66 8-4 6 113 81 28 68 .200
Phil Regan 1966 Dodgers 1.62 21 0.934 65 14-1 7 116.2 85 24 88 .206
Hoyt Wilhelm (2) 1965 White Sox 1.81 20 0.833 66 7-7 3 144 88 32 106 .175
Stu Miller 1965 Orioles 1.89 24 0.997 67 14-7 1 119.1 87 32 104 .207
Hoyt Wilhelm 1964 White Sox 1.99 27 0.944 73 12-9 4 131.1 94 30 95 .202
Bill Dailey 1963 Twins 1.99 21 0.911 66 6-3 6 108.2 80 19 72 .208


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