Craig Kimbrel historically piling up saves

Matt Snyder, Baseball Writer

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel saved his 41st game of the season in a 1-0 victory (ATL 1, MIA 0) Sunday. It marked his 180th career save and he's only 26 years old. In terms of baseball history, the save is a relatively modern stat, of course, and the one-inning save specialist is even more modern.

Still, what Kimbrel is doing is amazing. It's also historic in a few ways. Let's check it out.

First of all, in terms of age, Kimbrel is the second-fastest ever to 180 saves, behind Francisco Rodriguez.

Secondly, Kimbrel moved into a tie for 59th place in MLB history in career saves with Tug McGraw. Kimbrel is only 11 away from being in the top 50 and, again, he's only 26 years old.

Kimbrel is also the only player in MLB history with 40-plus saves in each of his first four full seasons. Speaking of 40-plus save seasons ...

Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman each have nine seasons with at least 40 saves. No one else has more than four. Kimbrel, K-Rod, Joe Nathan, Robb Nen, Jose Mesa, John Wetteland and Dennis Eckersley have exactly four. And that's it, in all of MLB history. No one else has more than three 40-plus save seasons.

How about this one? There are only six players in MLB history with at least 130 saves through their age-26 season:

1. K-Rod, 208
2. Kimbrel, 180
3. Gregg Olson, 160
4. Huston Street, 149
5. Bobby Thigpen, 148
6. Joakim Soria, 132

Finally, here's a real cool one: Mariano Rivera had just five saves through his age-26 season. Hoffman had 25. Kimbrel has 180 and there's still a month to go.

Pretty amazing stuff. It'll be interesting to see if Kimbrel can stay healthy and effective for the long haul. As we know, closers are a volatile bunch. Rivera and Hoffman are obvious outliers, historically speaking.

But if Kimbrel keeps this up, he'll be joining them on the Mount Rushmore of all-time closers.

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