Mariano Rivera was the single greatest closer in baseball history – I don’t think I’ll get any arguments on that – and four years ago today, he threw his final pitch at Yankee Stadium.
The ensuing farewell, emotions, and standing ovation from the New York faithful was a goodbye worthy only of one of baseball’s all-time Greats (with a capital G):
His Final Appearance: 1.1 IP, 0H, 0ER (Because, of course).
Despite playing in 19 Major League seasons from 1995 to 2013, every single time Rivera put on a jersey, it was the navy blue pinstripes of the New York Yankees (like a player from another era, he never switched teams). And during that time, he earned an utterly ridiculous 39.2 fWAR – which ranks first among relievers all-time
And it’s not particularly close:
- Mariano Rivera: 39.2 WAR
- Rich Gossage: 28.9 WAR
- Trevor Hoffman: 26.1 WAR
- Rollie Fingers: 26.0 WAR
- Lee Smith: 25.8 WAR
His career ERA is an almost unfathomably-low 2.21 ERA and his peripherals support his greatness (2.76 FIP, 2.99 xFIP). He retired with 51 more saves than any other reliever in the history of the sport and over 1,000 strikeouts.When he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019, I have no doubts he will be a first-balloter.
From an award perspective, there are almost too many to name. Some of my favorites, however, include: a 13x All-Star, 5x World Series Champion, and World Series MVP (1999).
That was one hell of a goodbye and one hell of a career.