What Went Right: Praise be to Mo

ALDS Game 3: Angels @ BoSox
CC speaks

Mo probably didn't walk someone with this pitch.We are truly blessed. For the past 13 years, we’ve had the privilege of watching Mariano Rivera work his magic out of the bullpen. While he may never hold the career record for saves, he is the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball. You won’t find too many people, Yankee lover or hater, who will argue that point. In an aspect of the game wrought with volatility, Mo has been a pillar of consistency and excellence.

Let me take this a step further. Some might not agree with me, but I think in due time many of them will come around. Not only is Mariano Rivera the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball, he is the best pitcher, period, in the history of the New York Yankees. This is no disrespect to Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, and the other workhorses of Yankees lore. They all have their places in history. Mo, however, is a once in a lifetime talent. I can’t even begin to imagine life in 2011.

While we’ve been examining what went wrong with the 2008 Yankees, Mo was among the few things that went right, though that doesn’t begin to describe his phenomenal performance. You might even be able to call 2008 the best, if not most dominant, season of Mariano Rivera’s career. He certainly earned the first year of his contract.

We’ll start with his raw ERA, 1.40, the second lowest of his career. The lowest came in 2005, 1.38, so there’s hardly a difference. Well, scratch that. The difference is that in 2005 Mo got hosed out of a Cy Young because Bartolo Frickin’ Colon won 21 games. Johan Santana also has beef. His ERA+ was actually better this year, 308, though it was 307 in 2005. He also allowed the fewest runs of his career, 11, even surpassing 2002, when he threw just 46 innings. His six walks were also a career-low.

None of those, however, is the most astonishing stat of them all. For that, I point to his WHIP: 0.665. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw it. Seriously? That has to be some kind of record, right? Thanks to ESPN, we can check at least back to 2000. Surprisingly, there are a few closer than I had thought, but none as low as .0665. Want another has-to-be-a-record? Mo’s K/BB ratio was 12.83:1. Only Ben Sheets has hit 10.00 since 2000.

As if that wasn’t enough, he did it all with calcification on top of his AC joint, causing inflammation. How someone deals with that for 70 innings is beyond me. He’ll undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday, but will be ready for Spring Training. Thank Mo for that.

It was an utter joy to watch Mo pitch ninth innings this season, as it has been since 1996. Each year, he continues to amaze. You’d never think a lanky guy like Mo, with only a fastball in his repertoire, could author such a dominant career. Yet he has, and there’s more to come. It has been a blessing and a privilege to watch Mariano become perhaps the greatest pitcher in Yankees history.

ALDS Game 3: Angels @ BoSox
CC speaks
  • Marcus

    I don’t want to be around the day a 9th inning save opportunity comes and it’s not the intimidating Rivera jogging out to the mound.

    The man is so focused and calm in the biggest moments imaginable.

    If Rivera didn’t have those ‘tie-game’ appearances where he allowed a few runs. This would be the most legendary season ever for a reliever.

    I tip my hat to this man.

  • Accent Shallow

    Mo is the all time leader in ERA+ (minimum 1000 innings).

    Also, you may want to check out Eckersley — I believe he had a few seasons with K/BB ratio greater than Mo’s.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Just checked. Nothing that approaches nearly 13:1.

      • Mike P

        Eckersley’s 1989 season is unreal…57.2 IP, 10 ER, 32 H, 55 K, 3 BB, 1.56 ERA. K/BB of 18.33 and WHIP of 0.607.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    RLYW made a little discovery:

    Rivera passed 1000 innings pitched this year, putting him on the top of Baseball Reference’s ERA+ career leaderboard. No pitcher has ever prevented runs relative to his era and ballpark better than Rivera has.


    Anything else left to say?

  • pat

    mo walked 6 people all season 6 PEOPLE ALL FRICKIN SEASON. So insane i cannot comprehend

    • Ivan

      That’s the amazing part. To walk 6 batters all season is just freakish.

      • jsbrendog

        no one i have ever seen pitch has been able to hit the mit prfectly without having the cathcer moving it even a fraction of an inch

        im amazed all over again every time i watch him pitch

  • Joey

    He truly was amazing, the one constant joy to watch this whole season. Never once did he jog out that I had the slightest bit of doubt, and I’m not exactly an optimist here. Thanks for the season Mo, lets continue it next year in the playoffs

    • dan

      You’re not an optimist? I banish you!

  • dan

    If Mo is God then what is Steve Trachsel?

    • Baseballnation

      The guy who can wash his jock strap.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Watching K-Rod tonight made me appreciate Mo even more.

    • Yankees=warriors

      I was going to say the same thing!

  • Slugger27

    i love you mariano rivera

    • pat

      I was thinking that myself. You watch krod try and nibble the corner and throw breaking balls in the dirt. Mo just throws darts, you know what pitch is coming, you know where its gonna be, just try and hit it.

      • pat

        whoops responded to the wrong comment that was meant for the one above.

  • Dennis Eckersley

    You may want to check out my 1990.

    • dan

      I didn’t want to say anything, but yea Eck’s K/BB ratio was better in both 1989 and 1990. Overall point still stands.

      • greg

        .607 Whip, damn.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

          I have no idea how I missed that last night.

  • JeffG

    As the good ol Jim Kaat used to say (about three times a week at least)… Rivera deserves the MVP EVERY YEAR.
    Man that guy was funny.

  • ortforshort

    It’s been a pure pleasure to have Mariano as the Yankee closer all of these years. Yankee fans have been tremendously spoiled, not only by his talent, but by his commanding attitude and by his total class as a person. Changing the subject slightly – I look at Chamberlain as Mariano’s heir apparent. He’s got the stuff and the moxie to do justice to Mariano’s legacy. Mariano’s been the one indispensible Yankee throughout their success prior to this season and it amazes me that people think that somehow Mariano’s value doesn’t measure up to that of a starting pitcher. If anything, his value is much greater (and so would Chamberlain’s).

    • TheLastClown

      A Joba to the bullpen argument disguised as praise for Mo….

    • pat

      I think we will see very quickly that melancon has the assassin gene mo possesses.

    • whozat

      If you don’t have dominant starters, your closer is a moot point.

      If you wanted to be logically consistent, you should have been agitating for the Mets to move Santana to the pen when Wagner went down.

      • dan

        Or Beckett to the pen when Papelbon inevitably sprains his mangina.

    • B

      Joba will be a starter!

      Heres to Mo becoming the all-time career saves leader!

    • jsbrendog

      except when mo came up he got shelled as a starter cause he only had one pitch. so they put him in the bullpen. the rest is history.

      Joba has 2 + pitches, a very good pitch, and a good pitch. putting someone like that in the bullpen is extremely stupid without giving him ample time (multiple years) to see if he cna hack it as a starter.

      if he only had one pitch. thenbang, closer. but no person cna justify putting a person with 4 mlb quality pitches in the bullpen without being high on crystal meth

  • Baseballnation

    I don’t even want to here Joba to the pen again until:

    A) Phil Hughes shows that number 1 pitcher stuff of his for a whole season.


    B) Ian Kennedy proves he can be a solid number 3.

    With that you’d have Wang, Hughes, Mose (hopefully,) Kennedy, and ? If either A or B should fail then it makes no sense to move a guy who has the talent to be placed among the names of Santana, Sabathia, Peavy, and Webb’s of the world.

    • jsbrendog

      im sorry but you will never see kennedy prove he can be a solid number 3 in the AL. m,aybe on the pirates when he gets traded for someone from their team that’s good. our trust in kennedy was misplaced.

      hughes ad joba are the 1-2 punch of the future with wang as a 3. and that’s scary.

  • Janyz

    What makes Rivera special is the fact he makes the game look easy. You do not get a lot of highs and lows with him, he gets batters out with machine like efficiency. Even when he is off (Like when he hit two batters in an inning against Boston), he does not blow up on the mound, and instead, calmly pitches his way out of trouble. Think about how many players in sports you can say that about? Montana? Mario Lemieux? Maddox? Rice? Walter Payton?, not many. There is no flash in his game. He does not emote like Clemens, K-Rod, Paplebon, or TO. Rather he is a quiet assassin, who just goes about his job, does it to the best of his ability (First ballot Hall of Famer numbers), and does not show up the opposition or umpires, which commands him respect everywhere he goes. Even in Boston, I do not hear the boos for Rivera, like other Yankees receive. I think it is because they know that Rivera respects the game, and carries himself accordingly.

    • jsbrendog

      in actuality he is not a person and he is not having surgery but is a robot and is gtting a service upgrade to service pack 4 software interface that will allow him to pitch for the next 5 years

  • http://www.yanksblog.com Patrick

    Well said, Joseph. I agree on all fronts. I was actually just looking over Mo’s stats yesterday, talking with a friend. The WHIP is insane. I feel the same way about Jeter as far as being blessed, etc.

  • steve (different one)

    i was thinking about this yesterday:

    is Mariano’s cutter the greatest pitch in the history of baseball?

    i don’t know enough to say for sure, but the guy is going to go all the way to the Hall of Fame more or less throwing ONE pitch. think about that.

    for 13 years the opposing hitters have known exactly what was coming and rarely can do anything about it. doesn’t that make the case?

    he throws a cutter and a 4 seamer. inside of the plate, outside of the plate. high cheese. that’s it. there are no breaking balls. no sliders in the dirt. and no change ups. same speed, more or less the same horizontal plane, and hitters barely make solid contact.

    there are arguments for other great pitches, but even if it’s not the “best” pitch ever, doesn’t it have to be at least the most EFFECTIVE pitch ever?

    • Count Zero

      Agreed. I think it’s safe to say that no one else became a first ballot with just one pitch.

      Even big mouth Schilling stated in an interview that Mariano had the best cutter in baseball by a long shot, and professed amazement at the fact that any pitcher could do what he’s done throwing basically one pitch.

      Everybody knows it’s coming and still they can’t hit it. Think about that. We often talk about how a MLB hitter can hit any fastball — even at 100 — if you can’t keep him honest. But they can’t hit Mo’s cutter even though they are sitting on it all the time.

  • Jeremy

    To think that KRod will get Cy Young and MVP votes, and Mo won’t.

  • Thisisthedavid

    Why aren’t we talking best PITCHER ever?

    Lets talk about when he pitched.
    Steroid Era

    Where he pitched.
    The monstrous Al East.

    And i think he has a great shot at the Saves record. Lets be serious he is going to pitch till he is 45. He hasn’t even found it necessary to start changing speeds yet.

    ahhaha come on fam


    • DJ Khalid

      HE THE BESTTTTT!!!!!!!!

    • steve (different one)

      let’s not go overboard.

      i love mariano, but he’s not the best pitcher ever.

      • Old Ranger

        The Yanks have been spoiled, we have had some very good closers; Starting with Joe Page in the 40s, Sparky in the 70s, Goose and Rags in the 80s into the 90s, then came Wetteland a couple years moving on to the best—Mo. I would call that a hard act to follow! 27/09.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Pedro Martinez says hello.

  • A.D.

    It has been an excellent privelage to have the greatest reliever of all time shutting the door, especially when you see a guy like Hoffman that hasn’t aged quite as well as mo.

    However if you’re going to say he’s better than the chairman of the board, then we get into the who sticky situation of starter vs reliever…and I think we’ve had enough of that this season!

    • Old Ranger

      Yup! Agree with ya!
      To put a BP pitcher in the same category as a starter is well, shall we say creative?! Mo is one of the greatest closers of all time but, one must remember they tried him as a starter…he failed!
      Now, I go way back as far as watching the Yanks, comparing him to Ford, Lopat, Vic Rachi, Gidry, even Stottlemire and Andy (bad spelling) is a non starter. Mo is the greatest as a closer, no if ands or buts about it!
      Asking Joba to replace him in the BP is also a non starter…we have gone over it all before, many times. 27/09.

  • jsbrendog

    i wish there was a stat that showed how many bats he has broken. He has to be up there in most bats shattered in the past 15 years. and thats even before these new maple bats started splintering like pencils

    • steve (different one)

      the best was in game 4 (?) of the 1999 World Series. i think he broke like 3 bats in a row.

  • ko

    Mo has been in a class by himself. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone even remotely like him. He comes in with class, confidence and calmness and gets the job done. And wih essentially one pitch (altho’ he does mix in a fastball). Also, Mo is the most valuable Yankee pitcher I’ve ever seen. Starter or reliever – that goes back to Whitey Ford days – and he may well be the most valuable Yankee I’ve ever seen, period.

  • Nick

    I don’t know if he’s the best yankee pitcher ever, ONLY because of the fewer innings he throws every year.

    That said, between his consistency and longevity, he is the best reliever ever.

    Also, don’t expect Joba (if, god forbid, he were to become a reliever) or Melancon or Sanchez, or whomever to equal what Mariano has done. It simply won’t happen…you will not see someone as good as Mo for a long time, if ever again.

    I feel sorry for whomever replaces Mo, cause they will be booed relentlessly at times since expectations will be unreasonably high. It will be similar to the Alabama football coaches for the last 20+ years since Bear Bryant’s death.

  • pounder

    The true mystique and magic regarding Mo is his outstanding character and wonderful personality.He is truly a man’s man,whether he is on the bump at the Stadium,or toiling in the background in some other field.All of baseball,not only Yankee fans should stand,applaud and admire this man.