"While 603 saves is an impressive statistic, the 12-time All-Star has proved for years that he not only is the best closer in the game, but one of the most dependable pitchers of all time. In an era where the sport is dominated by lofty and inflated statistics, whether Rivera reached the milestone record is irrelevant
in measuring his impact on the Yankees and baseball in general.
Rivera also ranks as theall-time leader in games finished (882) and save conversion rate (89 percent). In spite of his advancing baseball age, the ageless closer has maintained relative health throughout his career, this season marking the ninth straight year that Rivera has made over 60 appearances in a season while also maintaining a consistent strikeout ratio throughout his career. One measure of pride for Boston fans is that Rivera has struggled with the Red Sox, blowing 14 of his 68 career save opportunities. One of the remarkable facts about Rivera is that he accomplished such consistent performance with only one pitch: the cut fastball.
While the regular-season accomplishments of Rivera warrant first-ballot Hall-of-Fame status, it is his postseason performance that puts him in the elite class of pitchers of all time. In 17 seasons of play, Rivera has made the playoffs 15 times. In 94 games of playoff action, Rivera has amassed 42 saves and a microscopic 0.71 earned run average. Of the 523 batters faced in the playoffs, Rivera has surrendered 86 hits while walking just 21. In many occasions throughout his career, Rivera was
called uponto record two-inning outs at a time when the game was on the line."...
(Rivera has many multi-inning appearances that were important to the team but didn't fall under the individual 'save' stat. ed.)
"The Yankees held a ceremony before the first game to recognize the great Mariano Rivera for setting the all-time saves record earlier this month.
Terry Francona and bench coach DeMarlo Hale led the applause from the Red Sox dugout with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia among the players joining in. Rivera tipped his cap to the Red Sox when the ceremony was over.
The Yankees commissioned a Waterford Crystal fireman's helmet for Rivera and his teammates presented him with a near life-size lithograph showing his baseball cards."
Mo has the lowest walk rate of the Hall of Fame relievers (1.9 walks per nine), and
his strikeout rate is by far the highest (8.3 per nine). He’s only blown 65 saves,
while Goose Gossage blew 97 and Bruce Sutter blew 90…
yet Mo has pitched in over 1,000 games while Gossage appeared in 900 and Sutter in 650.
You can go on and on with the comparisons, but they’re still just as unremarkable; in short, the traditional stats make Mariano out to be a soul-destroying, bat breaking machine.
And when you turn to the new-school statistics, you find that it’s not just saves that really likes Mariano; it’s everything. He has the most career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of any relief pitcher and by a longshot too. Heck, only nine relievers have ever pitched good and long enough to accrue over 20 WAR, and of those nine, only one has ever cracked 30. With 38.3 WAR,
the next closest player (Goose Gossage) is a full 9 wins behind.
But it only gets better. Mo has by far the most Win Probability Added of any relief pitcher (55 WPA) over the course of his career, a full 23 ahead of the next closest guy (Trevor Hoffman). And he may have recently set the all-time saves record, but
he’s already the all-time leader in Shutdowns (539).
This one save doesn’t change his place in history, but it does serves as yet another of how the saber and mainstream aren’t as far apart as you’d think. It doesn’t matter what statistics you like to look at, the final conclusion is the same: Mariano Rivera is not only the best old reliever of all-time; he’s easily the best reliever the game has ever seen. The role of the closer may be a young one and not steeped in legend yet,
but Mo is crafting his own over in New York.
*You guys are so smart. One reader caught that Mo’s career ERA is actually 2.22, while I listed above that it’s 2.06. The numbers I referenced above are Mo’s stats as a relief pitcher; he had 10 starts early in his career that inflate his career ERA. And since Dennis Eckersley also started some games, I excluded all games started when comparing the relievers against each other.
**Again, this is Eckersley’s ERA as a relief pitcher."
The author mentions 1159 innings for Mo. Of the 1209 listed as of 9/21 in B-R I'm assuming 50 innings in 1995 were as a starter and 17 were as a reliever. This still leaves out the post season. If the topic of durability is discussed including innings pitched, it is quite misleading not to mention the post season in all cases. Obviously Rivera's work is the most severely slighted when post season durability is left out-- although it is "accepted" practice to do so in some baseball stat discussions-assuming one wants to be accepted by people who cheat others out of their career. It is not Rivera's "fault" that 3 levels of post season play began in 1995. It doesn't make those before him "unlucky" to have had more time to rest up. In the old days when they didn't make much money players got 2nd jobs over the winter. It was just different. It's no one's fault and no excuse to cheat someone out of what is often his most demanding work and in adverse weather conditions. I enjoyed the article, just think post season must be mentioned in durability discussions. ed.
Early on, it didn’t look like Rivera would have a chance at setting the record, as the Yankees had a 5-0 lead, which does not constitute a save situation.
But after the Minnesota Twins scored four runs, the game became a save situation and Rivera was on the mound in the ninth to strike out Chris Parmelee for record-breaking save number 602 in a 6-4 Yankees win.
“Toward the end I thought that he was going to have a chance and the excitement started building up,” Rivera Jr. said. “Just the joy of seeing my father reaching that goal, it was a proud moment for him and I was very proud for him. I’m very thankful that I was actually there to support him and I think he was happy that I was there along with my brothers and my mom.”...
“I’ve always said that my father is the best no matter what. The numbers didn’t prove it but now finally the numbers can back that up. That’s just such a reassuring feeling now,” Rivera said.
Rivera was just 3 years old when his father made his major league debut.
Fifteen years, 602 saves, plus 42 postseason saves later, it’s the most recent accomplishments that Rivera will remember most....
Shortly after his father recorded the historic save, Rivera updated his Facebook status, which read, “Yesss!!!! That a boy dad! New leader congrats great accomplishment :) ♥.”"...
"Long before anyone ever heard of Mariano Rivera, baseball had a theory that was passed from generation to generation of pitchers. The best qualities a pitcher could possess were elite speed, quick late movement, ridiculous throw-it-in-a-teacup command and an indestructible arm that never broke.
This was a hypothetical, a mere teaching point. No such pitch had ever existed. No such pitcher had ever been born. And no arm could throw such a dragon’s tongue of a pitch for 20 years and not crack asunder.
Even Walter Johnson, whose 100-mph sidearm fastball perhaps came closest, gradually developed his “nickel curveball,” a precursor to the slider.
But if such a pitch, pitcher and arm, plus a warrior’s spirit could be combined, what would you have? Then, if you added an imperial, entitled presence and a mound demeanor that merited a Metallica anthem as an introduction, then, once again — purely in theory — that pitcher could dominate almost every hitter,
win nearly every game of consequence
and stand above baseball itself with just that one almost unhittable pitch.
Then unannounced and unexpected in ’95, the Sandman actually entered.
At first, few noticed. Something about Rivera seemed a trifle too humble and soft-spoken to become synonymous with a 15-year reign of domination. He was a neat, polite Panamanian gentleman without a hint of extroversion. But then similar things were said of Johnson when he arrived from the Idaho State League.
No one could possibly throw one pitch, over and over, under the greatest pressure, year after year, playoff and World Series after playoff and World Series and almost never falter. Up and in (in your kitchen), on the fists (broken bat), backdoor low and away (take a seat) and apparently right down the middle, then suddenly on the corner low-and-away to right handed hitters, down and in to the lefties — equally and inevitably fatal to both.
But Rivera could.
No pitcher with 1,000 innings since the ancient Dead Ball Era had an ERA to compare with his career mark of 2.22.
The closest, Hoyt Wilhelm (2.52), threw the ultimate trick pitch, the knuckleball.
As homage to Rivera, and a nod to the temper of this baseball age, let his slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging average) in the postseason take our breath away: .172/.213/.229. On the biggest stage, against the best hitters, he made them all hit like pitchers.
Mariano was the greatest Yankee since Babe Ruth. He was more valuable, more central and more emblematic than Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter or any of the assorted Hessians like Roger Clemens of the free agent era since ’76. That’s an opinion from observation; it’s not a proof. Joe DiMaggio hit .271 (.760 OPS) in his 10 World Series.
Rivera’s ERA was 0.71 in 31 postseason series. Not 31 games, 31 entire series.
On Monday, Rivera broke the last record available to him — 602 career saves. Not that he needed it or that anyone cared about the number itself. But the moment was needed, the finality, the period at the end of the sentence of greatness at the pinnacle of one occupation.
Over the years, Metallica borrowed Rivera just as he had annexed their ’91 hit as his introduction. A huge video of Rivera jogging from the pen to the stadium mound, then baring his teeth on every 97-mph cut fastball, now plays behind Metallica when they crank up “Enter Sandman,” their ode to nightmares that beset the innocent: “Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand. We’re off to Never Never Land.” But one Peter Pan never visited.
There are times and places you never forget.You wonder if you can ever re-create them for those who weren’t. Rivera’s entrance at the Big Ballpark — more encores are scheduled for next month — was a human bolt of collective lightning as 50,000 people erupted. Rivera did not symbolize victory. He was the emblem of defeat. The hangman, the expressionless executioner and the ultimate closer in a town that worships closing the deal. He embodied Yankee power, even though they never bought him at auction, just signed and taught him, almost like a normal mortal player with flaws.
Mo was The End. After him, roll the credits.
Until Rivera, perhaps no one ever really believed that old theory — that with speed, late movement and command in all quadrants of the strike zone, the game of baseball was simply too difficult for hitters, even the best. Of late, he’s added wrinkles. But he will be remembered in his long prime as a symbol of dignity, consistency, perfected craft and that aura,
which he never possessed until he took the mound, transformed, into controlled menace.
Some say: Just enjoy 602. Don’t expect another big Mo-ment in October. Fine, you believe that. The greatest of the great in all sports will dispute it.
If the Yanks reach the point where they can shut the door on another season, Rivera will arrive, as he always has, like the dream of every pinstripe fan, but the final nightmare for those who must face the Yankees.
"There's a lot of closers that aren't going to do that, especially guys with his success," Rothschild said of the slide step,which essentially is quickening the delivery to the plate. "And up until that point he has hardly slide-stepped this year. But he picked the two games where you needed to do it to get it done . . . and he did it.""...
2.22 — Career ERA, second lowest in history for a pitcher with more than 1,000 innings, since the earned-run average became an official statistic in 1913. No. 1, by the way, is Eddie Cicotte, who was one of the Black Sox. And No. 4 is Babe Ruth.
1.74 — Rivera's earned-run average … since he turned 38 years old. He's also converted 157 of 170 save chances.
1 — Pitch types he's needed to be often unhittable and absolutely unforgettable. The cut fastball. Batters know it's coming nearly 90% of the time and still can rarely do anything with it. You wonder why the Yankee catchers even bother to hide their signals. They might as well just hold up one finger.
7 — Complete games he threw as a minor league starter.
3 — Blown saves Rivera had in his first six chances in 1997, when the Yankees made him the closer.
89.3 — Career conversion rate in saves.
8-1 — Postseason record. The lone defeat was a whopper; Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona. In that ninth inning, he also had his only postseason error, throwing badly on a Diamondbacks' sacrifice bunt attempt.
0.71 — Postseason career ERA.
42 — Rivera's uniform number. He was already No. 42 when Major League Baseball retired the number throughout the game in honor of Jackie Robinson, so he is the only active player still wearing it.
42 — Rivera's postseason saves. He has blown four in the past 13 years. Two came back-to-back against Boston in 2004.
"Buster Olney, former Yankees beat reporter for The New York Times, said there’s more separation between Rivera and the next best closer than there is between any other player at any other position in the history of team sports. ...
This may ruffle a few feathers, but I would argue that Rivera is the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Every game he enters is on the line, with each pitch a parcel toward a save or a blown save. History doesn’t favor Rivera because saves didn’t become a stat until 1969. But that’s not his fault. Mark Teixeira agrees. “I think we need to put Mo in that conversation,” he told The New York Times."...
"Is He the Best Modern Pitcher? Stats Make a Compelling Case"
"The statistic that is most often associated with Mariano Rivera is the save, and this week, as he looks to claim his 600th and takes aim at the all-time record of 602, he'll be celebrated for all the saves he's earned. Saves tell a story, but a limited one. Created in the 1960s, it is earned when a pitcher throws an inning to finish a game with no more than a three-run lead; finishes a game with the tying run on base or on deck; or when a pitcher throws three innings to finish a game.
Some saves are meaningful,others are largely inconsequential, like when Texas's Wes Littleton "saved" a 30-3 rout of the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. Rivera has had many of both over his 17-year career.
But even all 600 don't begin to catalogue the greatness of Mariano Rivera. When Derek Jeter notched his 3,000th hit earlier this year, the fanfare was appropriate—
the hit is the perfect stat to define Jeter.
For Rivera, the save is not. For that, it takes other numbers to truly do justice to this unique pitcher—and to assess his rank among the greatest of all time....
But ERA is the yardstick for measuring pitchers, and no one in the game today has a better career ERA than Rivera's 2.22. In fact, no one in the last 90 years has an ERA even close to Rivera's. Rivera is 13th all-time in ERA, and none of the 12 pitchers ahead of him pitched after 1927. They come from a different time, when the ball was literally constructed differently. In the post-dead ball game, the next best pitcher by ERA is Hoyt Wilhelm, who
Partially to account for the disparity between the modern era and the dead-ball game, statisticians createda formula, ERA+, to measure how a pitcher fares across different time periods. A low ERA in a period when fewer runs were scored is worth less than a low ERA during the steroid years, for instance,
when offense dominated and ERAs were high.
An ERA+ of 100 is considered average. Anything above that is good. Cy Young, for instance, has an ERA+ of 138.
Tom Seaver has a 128.
However, no one is better thanRivera, who has an ERA+ of 204. No one else is even close. The next best figure, Pedro Martinez' 154, comes from another dominant pitcher in an offensive era. But no one can duplicate Rivera's astounding success.
It's generally argued that starters are more valuable than relievers because they log more innings, and must go through a lineup multiple times. That rings true to manager Joe Girardi, but he still sticks to the statement that Rivera is the best he's ever caught—and this is for a man who caught Roger Clemens, among others.
Another number is even more impressive.
The primary job of a pitcher is tokeep runners off base. The fewer walks and hits they allow, the better. There's no simpler way to gauge this than by measuring walks and hits per innings pitched. And that number reflects Rivera's true dominance. He is third all-time in WHIP,allowing exactly one combined hit and walk per inning. There are only two pitchers better—
Hall of Fame dead ballers Addie Joss and Ed Walsh.
There are more. His strikeout-to-walk ratiois fifth best in baseball history. He's allowed fewer home runs per nine innings (0.48) than any active pitcher. Heck, his fielding percentage (.983) is ninth-best in history for a pitcher. ...
Saves will be what he is remembered for. But it's all the other numbers that make him
Even now, as he gets to 600 and moves closer to the all-time record for saves, we know that nobody has ever seen anything like him. And those of us who have watched it all from Rivera, from the time he was the setup man to John Wetteland in 1996, are convinced that we never will.
He has lost something off his fastball. They all do eventually, even when they are the combination of grace and talent and excellence that Rivera has been for so long, over all the time when he has been the greatest money pitcher of them all, and the greatest Yankee pitcher, even pitching just the ninth inning.
You sit with him in front of his locker and ask him the difference now between his young self and his old self, and he smiles at you and points to his head and says, "Wisdom."
Most likely Jeter is the Yankee who will be remembered most for this time, because he has been the shortstop and the captain and the glamorous star of the team. And he sure did get all of his 3,000-plus hits for the Yankees. And he has been the face of the Yankees more than anybody else.
But you can see another Yankee getting to 3,000 someday, maybe even Robinson Cano. There will never be another Mariano Rivera, never be a power relief pitcher who goes for this long and this well, still pitching at the highest possible level as he approaches his 42nd birthday. There he was in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon, one more one-run game for him, coming in and getting the double play that ended the game and let the Yankees leave Southern California having gotten at least one game off the Angels.
He will turn 42 in November, the number on his back. He is the last active player in the big leagues wearing Jackie Robinson's number. When Rivera finally does retire, it will be one more number he takes with him.
You ask him about retirement, he gives you the same answer, every single time.
"No one will ever have to tell me when it is time to go," he says.
For now, he is not going anywhere. For now, he looks to be the Yankee closer who plays on six World Series champions, at least. One more time he wants to get the last out of a Series the way he did a couple of years ago
So many great players over the past 15 years, starting with Jeter. So many famous names. We had the Core Four: Jeter, Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte. And A-Rod, bless his heart. The greatest of all of them is Rivera. He has been Babe Ruth doing his job out of the bullpen, but doing that job with DiMaggio's grace. Six hundred saves and counting. A magic number for Mo, to go with the magic he has always brought to the ninth inning with his fastballs and cut fastballs and control.
After all this time, and even at a ridiculous age for a closer, we are still shocked when he doesn't do the job.
"It's why people still remember the times you messed up like it was yesterday," he says. "But I've always understood that comes with the job, because with my job there is never much margin for error."...
But mostly when the ball and the ninth inning have been in his hands, they have won, over all the years, that one year when he set up Wetteland and then when he became the greatest closer of all. He was that again Tuesday night. Six hundred saves for No. 42. Never another one like him, never in this world.
There have been other forms of social security like this in sports. Mo is ours."
"It's nothing compared to the World Series titles," said Rivera, who picked up his 41st save of the season Tuesday and lowered his ERA to 2.05. "Nothing compares. Definitely, you want to get that , but I like the World Series better."
Joe Girardi, who caught Rivera's first career save -- May 17, 1996 at the Stadium -- said before Wednesday night's's game he couldn't recall the pitcher ever speaking about anything relating to a personal accomplishment.
"I've never heard Mo talk about any individual achievements," Girardi said. "I think at some point when he's done, he'll sit back and reflect on it, but I would be surprised if you heard him talk much about it now.""... (subscription)
Ceremonial first pitches in Anaheim to remember the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on America. 3 Yankee players from 2001 still playing today catch, Jeter, Rivera, Posada. LA Angels pictured on left, Jered Weaver, Torii Hunter, and Angels' Manager Mike Scioscia. getty, 9/11/11. Those making pitches had special connection to the day. I'll post their names when I find them. ed. Update, here's one: "During the pre-game ceremony Derek Jeter caught a ceremonial first pitch from retired NYFD Lieutenant Joe Torillo, a survivor of the World Trade Center attack."... from The (Bergen) Record by Pete Caldera, last item in article.