Mariano Rivera moved past Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list this afternoon, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Twins to close out a 6-4 victory and record his 602nd career save.
In general saves are an overrated and oftentimes silly stat and Rivera certainly didn’t need the record in order for people to realize what an amazing pitcher he’s been, but there’s definitely a nice symmetry to the best closer in baseball history being the all-time saves leader.
Here’s what the leaderboard now looks like:
Mariano Rivera 602
Trevor Hoffman 601
Lee Smith 478
John Franco 424
Billy Wagner 422
And no one else has 400.
Hoffman held the record for just one season, but Rivera will be atop the list for a long time. Francisco Cordero is second among all active pitchers with 323 saves and the highest total by someone under 30 years old is Francisco Rodriguez with 291.
Rivera will hold the record when he goes into Cooperstown and the way he’s pitching that might not be for a while. Today’s save was his 43rd of the season and Rivera has thrown 59 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 57/7 K/BB ratio. He’s as good as ever at age 41 and 700 saves seems possible, although 1,209 innings with a 2.21 ERA in the regular season and 140 innings with a 0.71 ERA in the postseason tells the story of his greatness even better than his save total.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.