Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of the
universe. In any universe, any galaxy, any planet, any day, Rivera is
the best option available.
My timing is impeccable, not unlike Mariano’s command. For Rivera
of course just recorded his 500th save, allowing him to stay second on
the all time list, however move up one unit. But had Rivera not
recorded that save last night against the Mets. And had he never
recorded another save in his life. He would still end up better than
any reliever we have ever seen.
As mentioned, impeccable control. The cutter is a great pitch, but
not alone. Mariano could put that cutter anywhere he wanted to, on any
given pitch. So if he couldn’t have commanded it like that, it
wouldn’t be as great-obviously. For there is more to pitching then
simply movement and velocity. There is also placement. And Rivera
probably could have hit a penny, floating in air, down and away to the
greatest left-handed hitter in the game. And then come back in,
hitting that same penny, inside to that same left-handed hitter.
And that is my point. It could have been Barry Bonds. Whoever was
at the plate, it didn’t matter. Rivera wasn’t intimidated. He knew
that he had control of the situation, and “command” of the results.
There is no closer that I have ever seen that is really close to
Mariano. Trevor Hoffman was great, but not quite on the same level.
Others came before, and while they were utilized quite differently,
they still don’t match up with Mo.
According to ERA+, you know who is at the top? Rivera, that is who. And that ERA+ is a remarkable 197.
That doesn’t mean that he’s the best pitcher ever, because
he isn’t. But simply being at the top of that list means that
greatness is what Rivera was made up of. Maybe even pixie dust, as his
magical ability to do what he wanted with the baseball was pretty
Speaking of unreal, have you seen his WARP1?
Now, I do not personally feel that WARP is good when comparing
relievers to starters and position players. But nevertheless, it
displays Rivera’s true greatness having a number like that.
What really impresses me are Rivera’s non-save numbers anyway. Not
numbers in non-save situations. but any number outside of the save.
Because the save is a pretty meaningless “metric,” sometimes.
Rivera, over 15 seasons so far, has 973 K’s, to only 247 walks. And
what is just as impressive is that Rivera has improved throughout his
career in the Bases on Balls category. Back in his first two seasons,
95′ and 96,’ Rivera allowed 30 and 34 free passes, respectively. In
2007, he walked 12 batters in 71 innings. And in 2008, only 6 walks.
6! That is something if I have ever known what “something” was.
Those K and BB numbers give Rivera a 4:1 BB ratio, which is clearly a great ratio for anyone.
And all that adds up to a Hall of Fame career. 499 saves would have
given the closer the same result. 400 saves would have given the same
And no I didn’t forget…
Rivera in the postseason. How could one forget? Do you know what
his ERA was? 0.77. And with that super-low Earned Run Average, was a
5.81 K to BB ratio. I guess if clutch exists, then this might be a
place where an argument can be made.
Mariano Rivera is a first ballot, no doubt Hall of Famer. And I would like to see anyone argue otherwise.
And this is coming from a Red Sox fan…