After 19 great seasons, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said goodbye last night to Yankee Stadium. In his 19 seasons, Rivera saved 652 games with a 2.21 ERA. He racked up 1283.2 innings as a closer and appeared in 1115 games. His career 8.22 K/9 is impressive, especially when one considers how he did it: Rivera was the most dominant closer of all time with one pitch, his cutter.
Rivera’s cutter is possibly the most famous, most dominant pitch of all time. He broke too many bats to count with that pitch by running it in on lefties. Even though they knew what was coming, nobody could hit it.
Even at age 43, he could still get it done at a high rate of success. In 64 innings in 2013, Rivera had a 2.11 ERA with 44 saves. Rivera will retire as MLB‘s all-time saves leader with 51 more career saves than Trevor Hoffman. His regular-season career was amazing, but his postseason career was possibly what made him even more special.
Rivera pitched 141 postseason innings. He saved 42 games in the playoffs, and he pitched to an incredible 0.70 ERA in the postseason. Rivera had 110 postseason strikeouts and only 21 walks, four of them intentional. In 32 career postseason series, Rivera gave up two home runs and only 11 earned runs. Think about that: in 141 innings, he allowed 11 earned runs.
Playing for a team filled with players that people love to hate, Rivera was always able to avoid being hated. We will never see another Rivera — not even close. We should feel honored to have had the privilege of watching Rivera because we weren’t just watching greatness — we were watching the greatest of all time.