There are times you could rightly accuse me of being TOO open minded. I happen to think it’s quite a sharp personal skill to be able to acknowledge two completely separate points of view.
Jim Leyland using Mariano Rivera in the 8th inning of the All Star Game was a non-troversey to me. But that’s the type of thing that arises out of a humdrum game with just 3 runs and 12 total hits. (Aside from the endless middle and late inning pitching changes – for the obvious reasons – hurler dominance is my kinda game!)
In his final All Star Game, Rivera couldn’t have been more deserving of the in game accolades and reverence from everyone in that stadium. Players, coaches, fans, and everyone with eyes fixated at home on TV.
Rivera is the greatest closer ever. (More on that shortly)
Back to me being TOO open minded. Have you heard the Indians’ Brett Myers criticism of Rivera receiving the game’s MVP award?
When I woke up the next morning – I didn’t watch the end of the game – my reaction was a ‘huh.’ Actually it was more like a comtemplative ‘hmmmmm.’
Then I reviewed the box score thoroughly. No player had more than a single hit, nor a single RBI. The game winning RBI came on a pedestrian sac fly off the bat of Jose Bautista in the the 4th inning. If not for Rivera’s ‘ceremony,’ the game would’ve offered zero compelling drama.
So Brett, I getcha! While Rivera didn’t really deserve the game MVP on merit, ummmmm, no one else did either.
Whether Mo got it by default of the night’s events, or as an All Star career achievement award, it’s not something I’m going to fiercely stake the flag of my opinion in the ground over. But I get Myers’ point.
Like I said, take Mo out, the night’s a snoozer.
You know I’m a fairly stauch proponent of WAR. It may be difficult because of its complex nature to understand, but I appreciate the baseline it provides. THAT, I can understand, and I hope you can too.
I need to preface this mild criticism by pointing out that on Baseball Reference playoff WAR is not calculated. Not that I can see anyway.
You know whose value WAR is not too fond of?
Like, really really really good ones. Named Mariano Rivera.
In fact, I’d suggest NOT using WAR at all when it comes to measuring the value of closers. I know the formula of WAR does its very best to dissect so many statistics than account for what we’d define as intangibles, but it can’t measure the certain fear that comes with Rivera entering the game to Enter Sandman. I like WAR a lot, but I think you’ve got to drill dip into it to see where the psychology of the game is measured.
Miguel Cabrera’s career WAR is 53.
Verlander’s is 38.9.
The greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen, Greg Maddux, has a WAR of 104.6 in 23 seasons.
OK, you’ve got a snapshot.
In 18 and a half years Rivera’s WAR is 55.4. If you further operate on that, Mo’s about a 3 win per year player.
The uncontested greatest closer in the history of MLB (let’s be mindful closer is only a three decade old position.) is akin to the seasonal output of…
(According to ESPN.com in 2012)
Again, BR doesn’t do playoff WAR, look for yourself.
Let’s allow the primal stats to do the talking.
141 career postseason innings.
Mariano Rivera’s highest single season WAR? A 5.0 in 1996, when he’d yet to become the Yankees closer. Rivera MAY be the game’s most exceptional postseason performer EVER. Move over Reggie.
Remember 1992 when Dennis Ecklersley had 51 saves, 93 strikeouts to just 11 walks and an ERA of 1.91. He won both the Cy Young AND MVP. Eck’s WAR that year was 2.9.
If you ever run into a discussion about the greatest closer in MLB history and/or anyone arguing WAR with you, if you want to go on the offensive against it, remind them it’s very unfriendly to closers. Especially the greatest in history,
Good thing we can still WATCH THE GAME.
*For the sake of thoroughness, I couldn’t access postseason WAR on Fangraphs either.