Mariano Rivera best pitcher of 2000's--Crasnick
- photo 7/14/09, Rivera's 10th All Star game
- Enter Mariano Rivera. The Sandman.
Right off the top, we'll acknowledge the sizable faction that believes saves are overrated and any pitcher who performs in 20-pitch bursts does not belong atop this list. Rivera ranked 155th in the majors for the decade with 713 1/3 innings pitched (regular season) -- fewer than Steve Sparks, Tanyon Sturtze, Claudio Vargas and Josh Towers, among others."
- (The 'total save stat' has been used as a marketing vehicle by some teams and players and has been popularized by MLB, ESPN, and the BBWAA. Opposing teams always know there's a chance Rivera will come before the 9th. He's never had the luxury of competing for the 'regular season total save stat.' He wasn't that 'lucky.' His job has been to win a pennant and go on to more difficult post season games). ed.
(Crasnick, continuing): "Of course, that limited workload is going to mute his statistical contribution in the overall scheme."
- (Mr. Crasnick hasn't yet mentioned All Star and post season appearances. If an 'overall scheme' is what you're looking at then overall stats should apply in judging "workload." Players should stop doing the work if it doesn't count). ed.
- (Crasnick, continuing): "When ESPN.com's Rob Neyer assembled his list of the 100 greatest players of the decade,
- Rivera ranked sixth among pitchers and 24th overall -- two spots
- behind outfielder J.D. Drew.
But consider what took place during the decade. In 1990, major league pitchers threw a combined 429 complete games.
- By 2000, that total had dipped to 234. And this season,
- it was down to 152.
- in the hands of set-up men and closers these days.
Teams have tried to buck the system, only to relent and embrace the inevitable. In Boston, those progressive, forward-looking Red Sox tried to de-emphasize the role of closer, only to realize the chaos that an unsettled bullpen situation could bring. In response, they converted promising young starter Jonathan Papelbon to the closer's role, in which he's thrived.
- In hindsight, no single starting pitcher stood above the crowd during the 2000s. Andy Pettitte, who spent much of the decade as Roger Clemens' sidekick, led the majors with 148 wins. Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were dominant at the outset, but faded at the end because of injuries and age....
- But Santana didn't emerge as an elite starter until 2004, and Sabathia posted an ERA above 4.00 in four of his first five seasons in Cleveland. Halladay's growth process necessitated a refresher course in the minors in 2001, and he missed time with shoulder problems and a broken leg (from a Kevin Mench line drive) in the middle of the decade.
Rivera, in contrast, was a rock for 10 years running. He received at least one MVP vote six times in the decade. Over the past three seasons -- at age 37, 38 and 39 -- he struck out 223 batters and walked 30. He posted a sub-2.00 ERA six times and a sub-3.00 ERA nine times. The lone exception came in 2007 when his ERA ballooned to 3.15....
- But in the end, Rivera recorded a 0.94 ERA in 86 postseason innings this decade.
- And when the stakes got higher and the pressure mounted, he was
- a set-up man and a closer rolled into one.
Rivera made 57 postseason appearances in the decade, and recorded
- four or more outs 35 times. He pitched two or more innings 23 times.
Think that didn't provide comfort for Yankees fans and his teammates and make life a heck of a lot easier for managers Joe Torre and Joe Girardi?
- Of course, the amazing thing is that Rivera continues to dominate hitters when they know what's coming. His cut fastball has the same demoralizing, bat-busting impact now that it did when he was 25 or even 35 years old."...
from "Most Valuable Pitcher of the 2000's," Jerry Crasnick, ESPN, 12/16/09
- 11/9/05, Sheldon Ocker quote from NY Times article (now expunged but copied and saved by me prior to its removal): On Rivera's 2005 season:
"it's just another good season for Rivera,'' Ocker said.
- have to save 65 games.'"'***
- photo above, 2009 All Star Game, St. Louis, from nyyfans.com
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