Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rivera the greatest closer of all time

Who is the best closer in baseball history: Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman? Do we really even need to answer that question?

In what looked like a lovely ceremony honoring Trevor Hoffman, who retired after last season, Padres radio announcer Ted Leitner called Hoffman the best closer of all time because he holds the record with 601 saves. If that statistic is truly the standard, Hoffman’s hold on that title is tenuous with Rivera only nine saves behind him. But the regular season saves record isn’t the sole factor in determining closer greatness.

I admire the loyalty of Leitner and the Padres’ faithful (fans of the New York Yankees are demonstrating the same loyalty to Rivera in a YES Network poll that’s not even close). But I think most objective observers would say that this is not even a debatable issue. Rivera is widely considered the best closer of all time because of his inexplicable ability to dominate hitters over 16 years with one pitch and his 42 postseason saves. In contrast, Hoffman’s inability to hold a lead was a major reason the Padres got swept in the 1998 World Series by the New York Yankees.

Coincidentally, I was watching Rivera’s Yankeeography just yesterday, which detailed his exceptional work in the postseason along with his devastating failures, most notably the 2001 World Series (I still think the Yankees win that game if Mo throws to the right base). But watching the DVD just reminded me of how Rivera has been the most valuable player during the Yankees dynasty. The Yankee teams of the 1990s and 2000s have survived key players such as Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez or Bernie Williams having bad series. They have never survived Rivera having a bad series. Rivera has been the common denominator in every one of the last five championships the Yankees have won. Without him, they probably don’t even have one title.

Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time. Case Closed.

No comments:

Post a Comment