Until last season, Mariano Rivera remained healthy and effective throughout his entire career. All baseball fans know that this New York Yankees‘ reliever is headed to the Hall of Fame. His announcement that he will retire after this season simply establishes the future date on that rightful induction ceremony.
Philadelphia Phillies‘ fans also know that despite Jonathan Papelbon’s solid 2012 campaign, they can’t count on “Cinco Ocho” as they would “The Sandman” this year.
I liked Ruben Amaro, Junior’s signing of Papelbon in November 2011. His $50 million price tag was expensive. However, among all available options and the team’s needs at the time, he was the right choice.
Papelbon has averaged 37 saves per year during his eight major league seasons. Rivera has averaged 39 saves per year during his eighteen major league seasons.
As baseball’s all-time saves’ leader (608), Rivera has nothing left to accomplish. His final trek across the baseball world will simply serve as a fitting way to say goodbye to the game on his own terms.
At 32, Papelbon likely has less than a decade of work left in his right arm. The former Boston Red Sox stopper is currently recognized as one of the better closers and should retain that moniker as long as he remains healthy.
Papelbon has a sharp 1.00 career postseason ERA. He has earned seven saves in seven postseason series, spanning four playoff years.
Rivera has accumulated the same postseason save total (42) as his uniform number. “The Sandman” has set that bar in 32 postseason series, spanning 16 playoff years.
Reviewing Papelbons’ regular season career, we see save totals ranging from 31 (2011) to 41 (2008) from 2006 through 2012. Last season he posted 38 saves in his new Phillies’ threads. The faithful shouldn’t take for grated that “Cinco Ocho” will automatically create another consistent year.
Of course people don’t believe that he’s Rivera in his prime. But, there’s a tendency to assume that an apparently healthy reliever in his early 30s will continue to hit his career average marks. The addition of free agent setup man Mike Adams and former Phillie Chad Durbin has served to reinforce this belief.
Papelbon has no history of significant injury, or career hiccups to this point. How long can that streak realistically continue?