There are many arguments when it comes to baseball history. Who the best power hitter ever? What is the best starting lineup? Who is the best pitching mound fighter? There is one question that has a quick, definitive answer. Who is the best closer in baseball history. That title undoubtedly belongs to Mariano Rivera. Let’s just do a simple run down of simple stats. Career: 2.21 ERA, 0.998 WHIP, 608 saves ( all-time record), 8.3 K/9 and 52.7 career WAR. Not bad. As a measure, the second all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, boasts a 27 WAR – almost half of Rivera.
So he dominates the stats for closers and has ridiculous numbers for any reliever. But what really made Rivera stand out was what he did in the post-season. His ERA in the postseason is only a little better than the regular season. 0.70. Are you serious? In the biggest moments, he pitched better. He only saved 42 postseason games in his career…only. The Yankees teams he was on had a severe level of talent, but Rivera was one of the best – helping them win 5 World Series.
And how did he go about doing this. One simple yet devastating pitch, the cutter. A few more details on the pitch after the jump.
It breaks to the pitcher’s glove side as it nears the plate. A good way to get intoxicated quickly is to play a drinking game in which you drink every time Rivera throws a cutter. In fact, maybe the Yankees can do a promotion night with personalized koozies to give away with the cutter grip on them. Confusing hitters, breaking bats, and inducing ground balls. The grip is shown below and then watch the video on how Rivera uses it to get batters out.
So know you know something about how the best closer ever went about doing his work. I doubt we’ll see anyone touch the combination of longevity, peak, and postseason play that Rivera gave us.