MLB Saves Leaders By Year—1970s
It's amazing to think that saves have only become a relevant statistic from the ‘80's on. But it's true, as more starting pitchers were finishing games back in the ‘70's and earlier. As a result, Detroit's John Hiller had the highest total for a single season in the decade, with 38 saves in 1973. And in the latter part of the decade, guys like Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter were beginning to dominate. Here is that complete list of saves leaders in the 1970's:
1979-Bruce Sutter, Chicago Cubs (37)
Bruce Sutter was one of the split-finger fastball revolutionaries, and became a dominant closer in the late seventies. In 1979, Sutter led the majors with 37 saves while with the Cubs. He also went 6-6 with a 2.22 ERA and 110 strikeouts to just 32 walks in 101 innings of work, all of which earned him the NL Cy Young Award.
1978-Rollie Fingers, San Diego Padres (37)
Rollie Fingers was a starter early in his career, but that career took off once Oakland moved him to the bullpen in 1971. In 1978 while with San Diego, Fingers led the majors in saves for the second straight season with 37. He also went 6-13 with a 2.52 earned run average and 72 strikeouts.
1977-Rollie Fingers, San Diego Padres (35)
Fingers led the majors in 1977 with 35 saves, going 8-9 with a 2.99 ERA and 113 strikeouts to just 36 walks in 132 innings pitched.
1976-Rawly Eastwick, Cincinnati Reds (26)
Closer Rawly Eastwick was one of the cogs of the Big Red Machine, and helped lead the Reds to a World Series title in 1976. That season, Eastwick went 11-5 with a major league best 26 saves, and a 2.09 ERA with 70 strikeouts.
1975-Rich Gossage, Chicago White Sox (26)
Rich "Goose" Gossage became famous when he signed with the New York Yankees later in his career, but Gossage led the majors in saves with 26 in 1975 while with Chicago. That season, "Goose" went 9-8 with a 1.84 ERA, and 130 strikeouts in 141 innings of work.
1974-Terry Forster, Chicago White Sox (24)
Terry Forster was both a starter and a reliever during his 16-year career, but in 1974 while with the White Sox, Forster led the majors with 24 saves. He went 7-8 that year with a 3.62 earned run average, and 105 strikeouts in 134 innings pitched.
1973-John Hiller, Detroit Tigers (38)
Hiller spent a few seasons as Detroit's closer, but 1973 was a career year, as Hiller notched a major league best 38 saves. That season, Hiller went 10-5 with a 1.44 ERA, and 124 strikeouts to just 39 walks in 125 innings of work.
1972-Clay Carroll, Cincinnati Reds (37)
Just like Hiller in 1973, the Reds' Clay Carroll had a career year in 1972. That season, Carroll led the majors with 37 saves, whereas his previous best was 17 saves in 1968. Carroll went 6-4 in 1973, with a 2.25 ERA, and 51 strikeouts.
1971-Ken Sanders, Milwaukee Brewers (31)
Brewers' closer Ken Sanders went just 7-12 in 1971, but wound up leading the major leagues with 31 saves. Sanders also had a 1.91 ERA that season with 80 strikeouts.
1970-Wayne Granger, Cincinnati Reds (35)
In 1970, closer Wayne Granger helped the Reds to the NL pennant, and led the majors with 35 saves. That season, Granger went 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA, and 38 strikeouts.