Friday, May 4, 2012

THE BEST THERE IS, THE BEST THERE WAS, AND THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE: There aren't many people in the world of sports to whom you can apply that honorific and receive universal agreement -- Wayne Gretzky and Jerry Rice come to mind -- and there can be no argument that when it comes to retiring batters at the end of baseball games, we will never see one better than Mariano Rivera. Let's hope this isn't the end of an incredible career.


  1. isaac_spaceman10:51 AM

    <span>It says something of either Rivera or Joe Torre, but probably of both, that during the Yankees' heyday, Torre did not use him only in the traditional closer role. In an age of specialization, and in particular of idiotic fidelity to the concept of the save, Torre frequently used Rivera in the more important role of high-leverage reliever. If the Yankees clung to a one-run lead in the eighth, Torre had no problem sending Rivera to the mound to get five or six outs instead of using an inferior reliever and holding Rivera for the ninth. If the game was tied going into the ninth, Torre knew that the absence of a possible "s" didn't mean that the next three outs were unworthy of his best player. Unrelatedly, more than one competent baseball person has commented after watching Rivera warm up by shagging balls in the outfield that even through Bernie Williams's best years, Rivera was the Yankees' best defensive CF, a true natural athlete with quick instincts and a knack for straight routes to the ball. I yield to no one in my hatred of the Yankees, but Rivera is the best reliever in the history of the game. </span>
    <span>I hope it's not disrespectful to note, though, that even the most valuable reliever of all time is not as valuable a player as an elite starter or an elite position player.  In that sense, Rivera was not like a Gretzky or a Rice or a Jordan or an Ali.  </span>

  2. Adam C.12:20 PM

    Absolutely the best RP ever, and I'd really hate (even as one who has nearly nothing but disdain for the Yankees) to see his career end on what may be one of the freakiest of freak injuries. A player - hell, a person - of Mo's caliber deserves to go out on his or her own terms, and I hope he can do that.  

  3. 58 postseason games in which he recorded 4+ outs; he allowed runs in only six of them.  In the 2003 Aaron Boone Game, he threw three scoreless innings of relief.

  4. Looking at it another way: during his career, Rivera finished 43 postseason games in which he recorded the last four+ outs, with only one loss.  In those 43 games, he pitched 77 innings, giving up 50 H, 4 ER (0 HR), 4 BB, and recorded 65 K.

    The next closest pitchers, from 1995-2011?  Papelbon, with seven such games, and Smoltz with six.

  5. As a Red Sox fan, I prefer to remember his blown save in game 4 a year later.

    But seriously, though, this is a terrible way for such a great player to end his career.

  6. As a Yankees fan (and probably the only one around here) this is sad news, indeed. I really hope this isn't the end of the line for his career. The guy is awesome and we still need him!

  7. Chuck5:21 PM

    Here's another Red Sox fan who was very sad to see this happen. 
    I just looked at his baseball reference page.  Lots of amazing stats there.  Including his lifetime earnings of over $144 million.  Wow!  I did rough math based on his innings pitched in both regular and post-season play.  That's about $35,000 per out.  He averaged more income per inning than most people make in a year.
    (Please note this is not a dig at Mariano AT ALL, just an observation.)

  8. Big Joe5:47 PM

    erin - just chiming in as another Yankees fan.  Given the FOX, ESPN, and MLBN TV schedules, you might find that there are more of us than you think! :>

  9. isaac_spaceman8:27 PM

    That doesn't seem crazy to me.  The average salary per out for a starting pitcher in 2010 (assuming 200 innings per season, roughly the mean for a full-time full-season starting pitcher) was about $7600.  That's probably a bit low, because I only included full-time starters in the innings count, but the average salary includes starting pitchers who weren't full-season starters.  The salary also skews low because it includes a large number of pitchers who are under team control (rookie contract; arbitration years); the numbers certainly must jump up after the arbitration years are gone.  So you would expect an average veteran starting pitcher to get more like $10K-$15K per out, and an average elite starting pitcher to command more than that.  Halladay is the biggest workhorse in baseball; even at 250 innings, his $20MM/year contract works out to $26.7K per out.  $35,000/out doesn't seem completely out of line, particularly since 2/3 of his money came in his free agency period and he was arguably the best reliever in baseball not only over that entire period, but in most of the individual seasons during that period. 

  10. Chuck9:01 PM

    Great info Mr. Spaceman.  It seems about right to me, too, but still, wow.

  11. Ha! I just meant around this site!

  12. isaac_spaceman2:49 PM

    Another way to think of it is that the Yankees are paying a lot of people $35,000 per out.  You and me, for example.  We just don't get as many outs for them.