And in 2013, Greg Holland surpassed them all.
Holland notched his 46th save of the year by holding on to a 3-2 lead in Chicago, giving the Royals 84 wins for the first time since 1993. That puts him in front of both Quisenberry and Montgomery for the most saves in a season by a Royal. Quisenberry set the record in 1983; Montgomery tied him ten years later. Twenty years after that, Holland takes the record.
With three games to go, Holland has a 1.23 ERA and has struck out 101 batters in 66 innings. He’s been a strikeout machine all year, but for some perspective, Holland saved the game for Jeremy Guthrie, who has struck out 111 batters – just ten more – in 211.2 innings, more than three times as many innings.
It’s been smooth sailing for most of the season for Holland. He struggled early in the year, giving up a lead in Philadelphia for his first blown save of the year on April 6. He lost the lead in the infamous James Shields game on May 6. His only other blown save came four months later when he gave up a game-tying homer to Raul Ibanez on September 5. The Royals won that game anyway.
He’s referred to as Dirty South on Twitter, a reference to his notable Southern accent (Holland is from North Carolina), and his arsenal of wicked pitches that have made him one of the best relievers in the game. Holland represented the Royals in the All-Star Game at Citi Field this year, a much-deserved selection after a dominant first half.
With just three games left, Holland isn’t going to get a chance to challenge the 50 save mark, but he’s one of 30 different relievers to hit the 46 save mark in a season. He’s close to having one of the top ten seasons by a Royals reliever ever when ranked by bWAR.
And he’s eligible for arbitration this offseason, so look for a hefty raise.