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Mariano Rivera, a Closer for the New York Yankees, is currently fourth on the all-time save list.

To save a game in baseball means to maintain the lead that the pitcher's team has at the time.


In baseball statistics the term save (abbreviated SV or S) 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 credited to a pitcher who fulfills the following three conditions:

  1. The pitcher is the last pitcher in a game won by his team;
  2. The pitcher is not the winning pitcher (for instance, if a starting pitcher throws a complete game win or, alternatively, if the pitcher gets a blown save and then his team scores a winning run while he is the pitcher of record, sometimes known as a "vulture win");
  3. The pitcher fulfills at least one of the following three conditions:
    1. He comes into the game with a lead of no more than three runs.
    2. He comes into the game with the potential tying run being either on base, at bat, or on deck.
    3. He pitches for at least three innings after entering the game with a lead.

If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, but he is 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.

The third rule can be contentious, as it is subject to the judgment of the official scorer.

Save rules have changed over the years; the above rules are taken from the Official Baseball Rules 2004.

The save is defined in Section 10.20 of Major League Baseball Official Rules. The statistic was formally introduced in 1969, although research has identified saves earned prior to that point.

A blown save (abbreviated BS) 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 (and earned 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 winning run to score, as with any other similar situation, if his team does not come back to win the game, said pitcher will be charged with both the loss and a 'blown save.' The blown save is not an officially recognized statistic, but many sources keep track of them. Blown saves have been tracked since 1988. 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 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 9-inning home game, pitching the top of the 8th), and his team later scores one or more run(s) 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.

Save leaders in Major League Baseball

Bold denotes active players.

* denotes left-handed pitchers.

300 Career Save Club

Rank Player Saves Team(s) Year(s)
1 Trevor Hoffman 482 Florida, San Diego 1993-
2 Lee Smith 478 Chicago (NL), Boston, St. Louis, New York (AL), Baltimore, California, Cincinnati, Montreal 1980-97
3 John Franco* 424 Cincinnati, New York (NL), Houston 1984-2005
4 Mariano Rivera 413 New York (AL) 1995-
5 Dennis Eckersley 390 Cleveland, Boston, Chicago (NL), Oakland, St. Louis 1975-98
6 Jeff Reardon 367 New York (NL), Montreal, Minnesota, Boston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York (AL) 1979-94
7 Randy Myers* 347 New York (NL), Cincinnati, San Diego, Chicago (NL), Baltimore, Toronto 1985-98
8 Rollie Fingers 341 Oakland, San Diego, Milwaukee 1968-85
9 John Wetteland 330 Los Angeles, Montreal, New York (AL), Texas 1989-2000
10 Roberto Hernandez 326 Chicago (AL), San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York (NL), Pittsburgh, Cleveland 1991-
11 Troy Percival 324 California/Anaheim, Detroit 1995-2005
Billy Wagner* 324 Houston, Philadelphia, New York (NL) 1995-
13 Jose Mesa 320 Baltimore, Cleveland, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Detroit 1987, 1990-
14 Rick Aguilera 318 New York (NL), Minnesota, Boston, Chicago (NL) 1985-2000
15 Robb Nen 314 Texas, Florida, San Francisco 1993-2002
16 Tom Henke 311 Texas, Toronto, St. Louis 1982-95
17 Rich Gossage 310 Chicago (AL), Pittsburgh, New York (AL), San Diego, Chicago (NL), San Francisco, Texas, Oakland, Seattle 1972-94
18 Jeff Montgomery 304 Cincinnati, Kansas City 1987-99
19 Doug Jones 303 Milwaukee, Cleveland, Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago (NL), Oakland 1982, 1986-2000
20 Bruce Sutter 300 Chicago (NL), St. Louis, Atlanta 1976-1986, 1988

Single season

  1. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2008) - 62
  2. Bobby Thigpen, Chicago White Sox (1990) - 57
  3. Éric Gagné, Los Angeles Dodgers (2003) - 55
  4. John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves (2002) - 55
  5. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees (2004) - 53
  6. Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres (1998) - 53
  7. Randy Myers*, Chicago Cubs (1993) - 53
  8. Éric Gagné, Los Angeles Dodgers (2002) - 52
  9. Rod Beck, Chicago Cubs (1998) - 51
  10. Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics (1992) - 51


** denotes the streak was achieved over the course of two separate years.

  1. Éric Gagné, Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-2004) - 84**
  2. Tom Gordon, Boston Red Sox (1998-1999) - 54
  3. Rod Beck, San Francisco Giants (1992-1995) - 41**
  4. Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres (1997-1998) - 41
  5. Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics (1991-1992) - 40

Blown Save leaders in Major League Baseball

Bold denotes active players.

* denotes left-handed pitchers.

Career (as of August 9, 2006)

  1. Rich Gossage - 112
  2. Rollie Fingers - 109
  3. Jeff Reardon - 106
  4. Lee Smith - 103
  5. Bruce Sutter - 101
  6. John Franco* - 100
  7. Sparky Lyle* - 86
  8. Gene Garber - 82
  9. Kent Tekulve - 81
  10. Gary Lavelle* - 80

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 Hiller*, Detroit Tigers (1976) - 13
  6. Rich Gossage, New York Yankees (1983) - 13
  7. Jeff Reardon, Montreal Expos (1986) - 13
  8. Dan Plesac*, Milwaukee Brewers (1987) - 13
  9. Dave Righetti*, New York Yankees (1987) - 13

See also