From 1997-2011, here’s the number of pitchers with at least one 15-save season, by club:
- Yankees — 1
- Padres — 3
- Angels — 4
- Every other team — Between 5 and 11
- Average of other 29 teams — 7.8
Mariano Rivera notched at least 28 saves for 15 straight years. The only other Yankee with as many as 7 saves in a season during Mo’s reign was Steve Karsay with 12 in 2002, when Mo hit the DL three times.
(By the way, that team went 103-58, their second-best winning percentage during Rivera’s time. My point is obviously not that they were better off missing the greatest closer ever for two months, but rather, that the loss of a great closer is not an insurmountable obstacle for a very good team. During his absences, they went 38-25, a 98-win pace.)
And if you missed it, Mariano said unequivocally on Friday that he will pitch again. I initially suspected that the injury might spur him to postpone his retirement for one more year, but I still wouldn’t put too much weight on a statement made one day after such a major injury. Let’s see how he feels after he’s been rehabbing for a while.
In case you wondered, relievers age 43 and up have logged six seasons of 2+ WAR — 3 by Hoyt Wilhelm, 2 by Satchel Paige, and 1 by Dutch Leonard. Is there any reason to doubt that Mariano could do what that trio did if he chose to come back? In his short time this year, he had sub-1 WHIP (for the 5th straight year), with a .200 BA, 4.0 SO/BB and no HRs. He had been virtually perfect since blowing a save on Opening Day.