Only fifteen pitchers — actually thirteen pitchers, because Todd Jones did it three times — have had a season of fifteen or more saves with more saves than strikeouts. As we shall see, of these fifteen, none are truly comparable to Jim Johnson's 2012, either because they were substantially older than Johnson, their ratio of saves to strikeouts was more even than Johnson's, because they were substantially less effective than Johnson, or for more than one of the above reasons. Below is a list of all such seasons; the columns should be self-explantory:
New York NL
I'm going to dismiss the three most-long-ago of these seasons. In 1991, Dave Smith was signed to be the Cubs' closer. He was moving from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park and was ineffective; and then hurt his arm. Dan Quisenberry was a unique pitcher, a sidearming sinkerballer who developed a knuckleball and, at his peak, was one of the two most dominating relief pitchers in history. Russ Christopher suffered from a heart condition caused by a childhood illness which forced him out of baseball after 1948. Their stories apply to Jim Johnson even less than the others'. Finally, Brian Fuentes is not especially relevant to Jim Johnson because Fuentes throws left-handed, and so could (and did) have long-term success as a left-handed relief specialist after he lost his closer role.From a saves-to-strikeouts ratio standpoint, the pitchers who are reasonably close to Johnson are Todd Jones (all three seasons) and Jose Mesa in 2004.
- Todd Jones, obviously, was able to retain his job as the Tigers' closer through 2007 and most of 2008, although he was a consistently less effective pitcher. He lost his closer's role midway through 2008 and retired after the season.
- Jose Mesa remained the Pirates closer for 2005, although he didn't pitch well. In 2006, he did pitch well as a setup man for the Rockies. But in 2007, he pitched ineffectively for the Phillies and Tigers, and that ended his major-league career.
- After his 2005 season, Braden Looper joined the Cardinals as a free agent. He had a solid year as a setup man in 2006; then converted to a starting pitcher and pitched fairly well for the Cardinals in 2007-2008. He signed with the Brewers as a free agent for 2009; he had a 14-7 record despite pitching poorly. He never pitched again.
- After his 2004 season, Danny Graves pitched himself out of the closer's job in 2005, getting released in late May after posting a 7.36 ERA in 18 innings. The Mets signed him as an extra bullpen arm, and he was only slightly less ineffective, with a 5.75 ERA in 20 innings. In 2006, he pitched 14 innings with the Indians in 2006, with a 5.79 ERA and never pitched in the majors again. His major league record after 2004 — 52 2/3 innings pitched with a 6.32 ERA.
- After his 2004 season, the Brewers traded Danny Kolb to the Braves, where he failed to hold the closer's job while posting a 5.93 ERA. He then returned to the Brewers, where he pitched fairly well in 2006 as a right-handed short reliever. He joined the Pirates for 2007; he pitched three innings before his major-league career came to an end.
- In 2006, Bob Wickman started the year as the Indians' closer and didn't pitch nearly as well as he did in 2005, although he was still effective. In July, he was traded to the Braves where he pitched extremely well as the Braves closer, 18 saves in 28 games with a 1.04 ERA. Much like 2005, he started 2007 as the Braves' closer and didn't pitch nearly as well as he did for the Braves in 2006, although he was still effective. He was released on September 1 and signed with the Diamondbacks, for whom he pitched 6 2/3 innings. He was declared a free agent and did not sign with another team; he never pitched in the majors again.
- In 2006, Bobby Jenks replaced Dustin Hermanson as the White Sox closer. Hermanson pitched six innings with the White Sox. He had hurt his back in September 2005; the six innings in 2006 were the last he pitched in the major leagues.
- We've looked at what happened to Danny Kolb above.
- Mike Williams served as the Pirates closer in 2003, even though he pitched ineffectively (6.27 ERA). He was traded to the Phillies at the trade deadline, for whom he served as a setup man. He continued to pitch ineffectively and never pitched in the majors after 2003.