Although Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young, won more than 8 games in a season, and pitched more than 100 innings only once in his career, Rivera is one of the top ten pitchers of all-time. Mariano is by far the best reliever in MLB history. All of Rivera’s success has been attributed to his devastating cutter, which has broken players’ hearts and bats. Over the years, Mariano’s greatness has been magnified because of the failure of other closers. Mariano Rivera’s cutter does not have the same speed as Aroldis Chapman, which shows Rivera’s genius and control.
Although Rivera cannot be compared to pitchers like Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Walter Johnson because they did different tasks, Rivera has been as dominant as those pitchers during the regular season. Rivera has the most games finished, saves, and highest ERA+ of all time. Rivera’s ERA+, 206, is the highest in MLB history and the closest competitor is Pedro Martinez, 154. ERA+ is a great stat because it takes into account the ballpark size, the hitters, and the ERA. ERA+ enables us to compare pitchers like Walter Johnson, 147, and Mariano Rivera, 206, although they pitched in totally different eras and ball parks. Rivera’s awards and numbers speak for themselves and defend the notion that he is one of the best pitchers ever. Besides for his 13 All-Star appearance, Rivera has the lowest WHIP and ERA among pitchers born after 1900. Rivera has won 5 Rolaids Relief Awards and finished top 3 in Cy Young Award voting four times. Rivera has 37 more saves than saves than any other pitcher and accumulated the most 30 save seasons. Rivera has been the best when the lights have been the brightest and the stakes have been the highest. Although it is not the same as the playoffs, Rivera has pitched nine innings in the All-Star Game and has never allowed an earned run. During his 13th and final All-Star Game, Rivera became the second Yankee and first reliever to win the All-Star Game MVP.
Mariano Rivera has been the one of the top three greatest pitchers in post season history. Rivera has pitched in the postseason 16 times in the 18 years. He would have closed games for the Yankees last season if he did not tear his ACL shagging fly balls against the Royals. Mariano has the best WHIP, 0.76, among pitchers, who have thrown more than 50 innings in the postseason. However, Rivera’s ERA, 0.70, is LOWER than his WHIP. Mariano has the best ERA among pitchers, who have pitched in the postseason. Along with Rivera’s eight wins, Mariano has the most saves in postseason history. Mariano’s greatness changes the whole dynamic of baseball games especially during the postseason. Opposing managers are forced to manage as if they only have 24 outs because they know their teams will not hit Mariano. Mariano has only lost one game during his postseason career, the infamous 2001 WS against the Diamondbacks. In 1999, Mariano won the WS MVP award. Although some believe that Rivera should not be compared to starters because he does not pitch as often, they are totally wrong. Rivera has pitched the seventh most innings in playoff and pitched in the most games during the playoffs. During the ninth inning, the pressure is at the highest and every body who plays sports know it is the hardest to close out opponents. The Yankees would not have won 5 World Series and countless series if Mariano was not pitching for them. Many people and baseball experts believe that the Braves would have won many more championships instead of the Yankees if they had Mariano at the end of their bullpen.
Rivera is one of the ten best pitchers of all-time because of his longevity and success during the postseason and regular season. Although Mariano has experience heart break once or twice during the postseason, he has caused the opponents more heart break. Rivera is one of the best and most respected players in the history of baseball.
Stats and pics from ESPN.com and BaseballReference