Best Attitude in Valley Sports (2012)

J.J. Putz

J.J. Putz is no putz. The name is pronounced Puts (as in he puts away hitters), thank you very much! And you'd think you wouldn't want to mix that up if you were interviewing him after a Diamondbacks game. Putz is a giant at 6-feet-5, 250 pounds, with that imposing glare from the pitcher's mound. A guy that big throwing that fast terrifies batters: His fastball doesn't hit the upper 90s much anymore, but it still clocks 94 miles per hour routinely.

But he'd sooner give you a bear hug than kill you. The jovial D-backs closer is the life of the team's locker room, a joker who puts a smile on everybody's face. Also, he's very good at his job, which is keeping the lid on games in the ninth inning. No easy feat, because no lead is ever safe in the majors. This year, he has 23 saves out of 24 opportunities; last season, he had 45 out of a possible 49; and career in the majors, he has 172 out of 209. He ranks 15th among closers this season and isn't that far from the top all-time, at 60th. An American League All-Star for the Seattle Mariners in 2007 (he was 40 of 42 that season), Putz will never reach all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera (of the New York Yankees) at 608, but at a durable 35 years old, he will have a long career and climb much higher on that closers' list. And all the while, he'll keep his teammates in stitches.


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