See You Soon, Mo
This year’s Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame election reminded us that the only guarantee with the voting results is that there are no guarantees.
But when Mariano Rivera officially announced today that 2013 will be his last season, it started the countdown to what should be a spectacular celebration in the summer of 2019.
By any measure, Rivera is the game’s greatest closer. He will retire as the all-time leader in saves with 608 and counting – a mark he will almost undoubtedly hold for the rest of the decade as only one active pitcher, Jason Isringhausen, has even 300 saves. But it’s his dominance en route to those saves that is truly mind-boggling.
Rivera’s career earned-run average of 2.21 is the best of any pitcher who started his career in the live ball era (post 1919) and is the 13th best of all-time, regardless of era. He is one of only three pitchers with a WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) under 1.00 (0.998) – the other two being dead-ball era standouts (and Hall of Famers) Addie Joss and Ed Walsh. And his career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.04 trails only Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez among modern pitchers.
And then there’s the postseason. In 96 career games, Rivera is 8-1 with 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA. In 96 appearances, he’s been scored on 11 times – surrendering more than one earned run only once. He was arguably the main reason the Yankees won five World Series titles from 1996-2009.
If Rivera retires after this season, he’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019. He joins an incredible impending lineup of Hall of Fame eligibles over the next few years, including: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas in 2014; Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz in 2015; Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman in 2016, Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez in 2017; and Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel (and maybe Jim Thome, if he does not play this year) in 2018.
Guarantees? Save that for banks and used car dealers. But this is for certain: We shall never see Rivera’s like again on the mound.
Cooperstown will soon come calling for Mo.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum