Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
2. Jeff Montgomery (1988-1999, 13.6 WAR)
27 years ago yesterday, the Kansas City Royals sent Van Snider to the Cincinnati Reds for a struggling pitcher named Jeff Montgomery. A year and a half later, Montgomery was on his way to putting together a solid career and becoming the Royals all time leader in saves.
While Montgomery never earned a Cy Young vote, he still earned recognition for his work as the Royals closer. He was a three time All-Star and finished 13th in the 1993 MVP ballot. That same season, Montgomery was named the American League Relief Pitcher of the Year, as he led the American League with 45 saves while posting a 2.27 ERA and a 1.008 WHiP.
Overall in his time with the Royals, Montgomery notched 304 saves while posting a 3.20 ERA and 1.233 WHiP. While not the classic flamethrower that one sees as a closer now, Montgomery struck out 720 batters in 849.1 innings of work. Taking over from one of the best relievers of his era in Dan Quisenberry, Montgomery proved to be an excellent replacement.
It is unfortunate that Jeff Montgomery only got to experience the end of the Kansas City Royals run of relevance during the late 1980’s and into the early 1990’s. He was a very good player who did not get nearly the recognition he deserved.
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