Celebrating Craig Kimbrel’s 400th Save By Ranking His Most Important Saves

Reliving Kimbrel's biggest saves of his career.

There might not be a more fitting place for Craig Kimbrel to have picked up his 400th career save than where it all began. The righty took the mound for the bottom of the ninth to close it out against his old team and he did not disappoint. Against the best offense in the National League, Kimbrel drew two soft fly balls, followed by a walk and a ground out to close it out and make history becoming the eighth player to crack the 400 saves mark.


Kimbrel had a bumpy start to the 2023 season, allowing 11 runs through his first 14 appearances. Since the second week of May, however, six of seven of the righty’s outings have been scoreless and he has allowed just four baserunners during that span.

Career Saves Leaders

At this point, Kimbrel has experienced some ups and downs throughout his 14 MLB seasons. However, through his first eight full seasons, Kimbrel was one of, if not, the most dominant closers in the game. During that time, he received seven All-Star selections, votes for the Cy Young Award five times, votes for MVP three times, won the 2011 Rookie of the Year award, and became a World Series Champion.

The Huntsville, Alabama native was first drafted by Atlanta in the 33rd round of the 2007 draft. Although he opted not to sign, Atlanta stuck with him in the following draft, selecting him 30 rounds earlier. After being drafted, Kimbrel dominated the lower minors, posting a WHIP of 0.877 and allowing just two earned runs over 35.1 innings. The young righty quickly made it to High-A before the 2008 season even concluded.

Kimbrel continued to dominate hitters for the most part in his second professional season and reached Triple-A by the end of 2009. He made his major league debut in 2010 and split his time between the Majors and Triple-A that season before becoming a mainstay in Atlanta in 2011.


First Career Save – September 19, 2010

Kimbrel’s first career save was his only save of the 2010 season. He threw 14 of his 18 pitches that inning for strikes and struck out the side while allowing a base hit. The righty reached the upper-90s on his heater and gave Atlanta fans a glimpse of what was to come. It was also a glimpse of what was to come for the Mets who would be stuck in the same division as Kimbrel for the ensuing four seasons.


100th Career Save – May 10, 2013

Just a month into his third full MLB season, Kimbrel locked down his 100th career save. Facing the then-reigning World Series champions, he retired the minimum on three groundouts. Kimbrel’s 50 saves in 2013 accelerated Atlanta to 96 wins that season and the team’s first division title since 2005.


First Postseason Save – 2013 NLDS Game 2

Atlanta managed just one postseason victory in 2013, but that one victory was sealed by a four-out save from Kimbrel. After entering in the top of the eighth inning, the righty’s fastball broke triple digits. He quickly finished the eighth with a soft groundout and returned in the ninth to record a pair of punchouts and his first career save in the playoffs.


200th Career Save – June 8, 2015

Kimbrel held a 1.43 ERA with Atlanta from 2010 through 2014, but in the eleventh hour, on the eve of Opening Day 2015, Atlanta opted to move forward with a blockbuster deal with the Padres that sent the closer to southern California. Although he did not quite replicate the numbers he posted in Atlanta, Kimbrel nevertheless finished his lone season in San Diego with a stellar 1.045 WHIP. In the process of collecting 39 saves that year, he also picked up his 200th career save.


300th Career Save – May 5, 2018

Following Kimbrel’s trade from San Diego to Boston, he was outstanding with his new club, once again posting sub-1.000 WHIP seasons in 2017 and 2018. He made the All-Star team during all three years as a Red Sox. Between those three seasons, he compiled 108 saves, 43 of which went toward the team’s 2018 World Series campaign. His 300th save set a record for the fewest save opportunities it has ever taken a player to reach 300 career saves.


2018 Postseason

Kimbrel had a very rocky start to the 2018 postseason with several shaky outings in save situations. Nevertheless, the closer persevered and came out in the ninth inning of game five in the ALCS to seal the deal and send the Red Sox to the Fall Classic. Kimbrel then helped Boston set the tone for the World Series by closing out the first two games and recording a save in game two.


Photo by Icon | Adapted by Chris Corr (@Chris_Studios on Twitter)

Gabe Goralnick

A senior at Yeshiva University studying political science and a diehard baseball lover from the Big Apple. He's either watching baseball, writing about baseball, or cooking some awesome food.

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