New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera In A League Of His Own
The traditional definition of a closer is [quote]“A relief pitcher called upon to protect a lead late in a game.” [/quote]
However dictionaries around the world should revise their respective definition to the most exact wording of all. “Mariano Rivera”. Plain and simple, no other explanation or definition required.
As a loyal supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays, I have witnessed the domination first hand for the last 19 years as Rivera has slammed the door on many a Yankee victory over my beloved Jays. I was always aware Rivera would be a first ballot Hall of Famer and is a quintessential professional. However, self-admittedly, I had never really analysed his career statistics being a hated Yankee and all but after perusing his stat line, I am absolutely blown away.
Rivera broke into the league in 1995 with the New York Yankees where he posted his career worst earned run average with an inflated 5.51 in 19 games which included 10 starts. Rivera would go 5-3 in his rookie campaign but interestingly enough would never start another game in the majors.
For the next 17 seasons Rivera would assert himself as one of the premier closers in the game and only have an earned run average over 3.00 once, in 2007 Rivera posted an era of 3.15, still very respectable to say the least.
The remaining 16 season breakdown is pretty impressive which lead to his career era of 2.21:
11 seasons with an era under 2.00
5 seasons with an era under 3.00
Rivera is the all-time career saves leader with 619 and counting collecting over 50 saves on two occasions throughout his career. He has been a model of consistency and essentially remained injury free throughout his career if it wasn’t for his freak injury last season shagging fly balls. Retired closer Trevor Hoffman is second on the all-time saves list with 601 and there is not active player within a country mile of the 600 save plateau. Joe Nathan is the active leader behind Rivera with 306 career door slams and no chance of coming anywhere close of the record.
Former manager Joe Torre sums it up about his closer [quote]”He’s the best I’ve ever been around. Not only the ability to pitch and perform under pressure, but the calm he puts over the clubhouse. He’s very important for us because he’s a special person.” [/quote]
The 43-year old has made it public that this will be his final year in the majors even-though he is still dominating hitters with ease earning 11 saves already this season to the tune of a 1.59 era.
Rivera will forever be immortalized as the greatest 9th inning man to ever take the bump with one last game to close in Cooperstown.