Who is the greatest relief pitcher of all-time?

Eck and Mo

This is possibly the trickiest of all the rankings because of the ever-evolving role of the relief pitcher. Dennis Eckersley comes out on top by a large margin (204.46), but one must remember that he spent a good deal of his career as a quality starter and gets a large amount of his points from the wins and strikeouts during that part of his career. Of course he was no slouch as a reliever, and won the Cy Young Award and MVP in that role in 1992. But the best reliever, who was nothing but a reliever during his big league career, was (and is) Mariano Rivera of the Yankees (162.35).


Rollie Fingers (142.05) comes in as the third greatest reliever ever, just above Trevor Hoffman (#4, 138.83). Known as much for his handlebar moustache as his pitching, Fingers made seven All-Star teams and was named both the Cy Young Award winner and MVP in the strike-shortened 1981 season.


Goose Gossage (#5, 132.56) was a big personality and very popular during his career. Lee Smith (#6, 129.45) beats out Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhem (#7, 129.42) and Bruce Sutter (#8, 117.41); Billy Wagner (#9, 116.71) and John Franco (#10, 113.09) finish up the top ten, while one-time career saves leader Jeff Reardon (#11, 102.48) is the only other reliever over the 100-point mark.

About JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Posted on April 6, 2013, in baseball, baseball cards and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. The Greatest season a relief pitcher ever had- Mike Marshall 1974 Dodgers.. of course he wouldn’t be among the GOAT he only had a few great years. I agree with your comments on Eck and Rivera.

    • Completely forgot about Marshall. I plugged his numbers in to see where he falls, and he comes in just below Reardon and gives us another 100-point career with 100.97.

  2. Two very good choices. Have to lean towards Rivera simply on “fear factor.” Eck was terrific in both starting and relief roles, but Rivera worried batters about as much as Bob Gibson. Even Red Sox fans have to give Mo his due.

    • I would definitely pick Rivera over Eckersley, but Eck was nearly unhittable for a few years in the late 80s/early 90s. Not sure how he would have fared if he had remained a starter.

  3. ineresing how do you use your point system and how many points would eck have just as rel and how aout pre 70s rps when rp was different and a couple my favorites were john hiller and tug mcgrraw and dont forget rp basically one or less now as opposed oearilier

  1. Pingback: Who is the greatest relief pitcher of all-time? | Baseball Trash Talkin

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