Closers by nature tend to throw hard, thrive under pressure & famously burn out quickly. We take a look at the careers of the top five all time Saves leaders for the Baltimore Orioles:
5. Jorge Julio – 83 Saves; 291.2 Innings Pitched
The Orioles traded Ryan Minor for Expos minor leaguer Jorge Julio in 2000. Julio was with the Orioles for 5 seasons (in a tough era) & did all his damage from 02′ to ’04 where he racked up his 83 saves including 36 in 2003 before losing his spot to BJ Ryan & being shipped to Toronto for the ’06 season.
4. Stu Miller – 99 Saves; 502.0 Innings Pitched
Stu Miller played for the Orioles from 1963-1967 at the end of his career. In an era where closers where not the de rigueur they are today he was an effective closer . He may be most famous for giving up Mickey Mantle’s 500th Home Run as an Oriole. Watch the video below:
3. Tippy Martinez – 105 Saves; 752.1 Innings Pitched
Tippy was in Baltimore from 1976 to 1986 & a member of the 1983 World Series Champion Orioles. He came to the Orioles in the famous trade that netted Rick Dempsey, Rudy May, Scott McGregor and Dave Pagan as well. Waaaay before Twitter, Tippy had a fan club near the bullpen called “Tippy’s Tweeters”. The game Tippy may be remembered for the most was not a save actually. He got the win after picking off 3 Blue Jays at first in one inning in 1983 at Memorial Stadium as the O’s went on to win the tie game in the bottom of the tenth. Watch Below:
2. Jim Johnson 122 Saves; 400.0 Innings Pitched
The Orioles drafted Jim Johnson in the fifth round of the 2001 Draft. His first impact in the majors was a call-up in 2008 when he tallied 18 consecutive scoreless innings. Named the closer after the O’s traded George Sherrill in 2009 he was back & forth between closing & set-up until his monster year in 2012 when set the Orioles all time single season saves record with 51 to finish the season, passing Randy Myers at 46, & making the All-Star team. After a follow-up 50 save season in 2013 Johnson was traded to the Oakland A’s in what was widely regarded as a salary dump, but turned out to be smart move as Johnson only recorded 6 saves over the next 2 years, but is currently attempting a return to form with the Atlanta Braves.
1. Gregg Olson 160 Saves; 350.1 Innings Pitched
Olson, drafted 4th overall in the 1988 MLB draft, had a 90 MPH fastball & a devastating curveball. He made his debut with the O’s that season but broke out in his first full season winning American League Rookie of the Year Award en route to setting an American League rookie record with 27 saves while posting a 1.69 ERA in 1989. Over the next 4 years Olson racked up the saves with 37 in 1990, 31 in ’91, 36 in ’92 & 29 in 1993 before going down with a torn elbow ligament. He bounced around the league with multiple teams over the next few years before regaining his form in 1998 with the Diamondbacks posting 30 saves. But that season was his only post O’s highlight as he posted 14 saves the next year & finished his career with disappointing years in L.A. before retiring.
Over his 14 year career he recorded 217 saves & was inducted into the Orioles Hall Of Fame in 2008.
Olson was famously combined with Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, & Mark Williamson for a 4 man no-hitter in 1993, watch the video below:
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