The end of Mo’s streak, if not his career

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.

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kds
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I certainly hope he can come back. The Yanks have much greater problems elsewhere on the pitching staff than his loss. Closers just aren’t that valuable. Have you seen all the changes Sean Foreman has made to the WAR formulae? And even better, he has written documentation of the methods in great detail. I agree with almost all the now current methods. Almost all top position players career totals dropped, (A-rod is an exception.), while the top pitchers gained value with the revised measures. Before I think it was correct to call it rWAR because b-ref just took the numbers… Read more »
Mike L
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Saves are pretty much a garbage stat-it’s performing at a high level when everything is at stake that counts, and Rivera excelled at that. His post season record looks like a typo Interesting quirk about his record-he has only three of the fifty five highest season saves totals. Considering how healthy he’s been, it’s an interesting commentary on the stat itself But, in the end, you have to realize the psychological impact Rivera had on Yankee fans, and I would imagine the team and front office. We knew he was going to be there, we knew he was almost always… Read more »
Dr. Remulak
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# 2 all-time in WHIP, # 5 all-time in H/9IP, # 1 all-time in Adjusted ERA+, 0.70 ERA in postseason. If there were a stat for broken-bats/IP (is there?) he’d surely be toward the top of that list as well. Not simply the greatest reliever ever, Mariano is one of the greatest pitchers ever. By the way, his ELO rating is a travesty.

DaveR
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The Padres only had 3 pitchers with 15+ saves in that time (Hoffman, Beck, Bell). Still…

Neil L.
Guest
The Yankees have deeper problems in their pitching staff than the loss of Mariano Rivera, I think. For Rivera to have had a maximum impact this year the team would have to be preventing enough runs to be in a save situation. This is not to diminish his career accomplishments in any way, but does Mariano frequently get the borderline (and not so borderline) pitches called his way? The “LeBron James” treatment from umpires? It may be only the small number of times I’ve seen him pitch on TV the last few years but this seems to be true of… Read more »
Mike L
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Neil, I’m going to step over a line here on HHS, and do it with apologies. I’ve been watching baseball for close to fifty years, and I’ve seen a lot of great players. Rivera happens to be one of the best, in every way, thought of that way not just by (his) fans but also by his contemporaries. If he’s thrown his last pitch (and no one can know that) he should be permitted to retire without some of the revisionist comments I’ve seen. His stats speak for themselves, and if he’s overrated, it must be against a standard that… Read more »
Neil L.
Guest

Mike, do not apologize, you have not stepped over a line. I have not been following baseball for as long as you.

What do mean by the revisionist comments about Rivera?

Is it the under-appreciated role of a closer in general?

Jason Z
Guest

Over the years many established pitchers have benefited from their
reputations to get close pitches called their way.

This is not unique to Rivera and to imply that his success is at
least partially due to an extended strike zone is unfair.

Neil L.
Guest

Greg Maddux perhaps.

Neil L.
Guest

No slight intended to Rivera. He has earned the close ones.

Jimbo
Guest

The only way Rivera has been overrated is because of how he’s been utilized.

Everything he’s ever been asked to do, he’s done better than anybody ever has, in every way.

Neil L.
Guest

Sorry, Jimbo, what are you saying?

That he would not have been overrated if were a starter?

Why is opinion so polarized in the baseball community about Rivera’s place in pitching history?

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Nine games.
One Stinker.
Eight Perfectos.

For 2012 his ERA, ERA+, WHIP, and SO/9 are all almost identical to his career numbers.

Jason Z
Guest

The closer role may be underappreciated, but that doesn’t change the fact
that Rivera has done what he has been asked to do better than anyone who
ever played the game.

And it is not even close.

Consider the DH, some may not like it. But
Edgar Martinez was still an extraordinary hitter.

Don’t diminish Rivera’s accomplishment because you don’t like the way
the closer’s role has evolved.

bstar
Guest
I don’t know that I would say “it is not even close” in comparing Rivera to other closers. The ERA+ gap that Rivera has over everyone else would not look quite so amazing had Billy Wagner gotten to 1000 IP. Wags only pitched 903 innings but compiled a 187 ERA+ in the process. While that doesn’t beat Mariano’s 206, it is well ahead of Pedro Martinez’ 154 mark for second place. Does Mo have almost 200 more saves than Wagner? Yes. Are his postseason accomplishments as a reliever without peer? Yes. Did Wagner stink it up in his brief postseason… Read more »
Thomas Court
Guest
Wagner was sneaky good, and it is a shame that he retired so close to the requisite 1,000 innings or 1,000 decisions that would have placed him in the all-time career rate categories. But he didn’t reach those plateaus and Mo River did. So consider that Mariano Rivera ranks 13th all-time in ERA. The next active player is Tim Lincecum who ranks 180th. Rivera is up with pitchers from the dead ball era. Through 2004, when he was 34 years old, Mariano had tallied a career WHIP of 1.067. That is an impressive number for a pitcher. Since then, his… Read more »
Thomas Court
Guest

Ugh… make that 100 decisions

Mike L
Guest
Too many places to hit reply to, so I’m going to take this in pieces. Bstar@21 is correct to bring Wagner into the discussion. The 1000 inning cutoff is arbitrary, and Wagner was certainly great. I would only note that Rivera did his 206+ in a third more innings, and that doesn’t include his post season, which was effectively two more seasons. As great was Wagner was, Rivera’s sustained excellence sets him apart. On the “Mo gets the close calls” which began with Neil’s post at 5 began this, fairly bluntly, with the “Lebron treatment” comment. Rivera probably gets some… Read more »
brp
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It’s hard for me to put Rivera up there with even Pedro or Randy Johnson or Maddux or Halladay or any of the other great SPs in the past 20-30 years. Now maybe I’m nuts, but if we took a top-line starter’s first-inning stats and compared them to Mo’s, would there be a spectacular difference? Now Mo’s a HOFer, and the best relief pitcher ever, but the reason people try to downgrade his accomplishments is that we really don’t know if that amazing success could have been sustained if he had to pitch 200 innings a year instead of 65.… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

I don’t think you have to put Rivera up there with Maddux, Pedro, etc. They were different and performed different functions. If I were a GM and were given perfect foresight to pick Mo or any of the really great SP of the last 20 years, I might have gone for the starter. I think you accept he was the best at what he did for a very long time. I’m not sure the Mo “debate” is much different than comparing Boggs to Schmidt, or Ichiro to Bonds. All were great, just different.

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