(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).
Mariano Rivera’s accomplishments can’t be overstated. But, what can we say about his failures?
Over 17 seasons, the reliever has consistently dominated the opposition, compiling an astounding ERA+ of 205, which is the highest total by any pitcher throwing over 1,000 innings. Incredibly, he has been even better in the post season, where his 0.71 ERA in 139 2/3 innings is without compare. In other words, Rivera’s superhuman reputation is certainly well deserved.
Because there are so many ways to trumpet Rivera’s successes, it’s easy to take him for granted. That’s why it’s still a shock when the Yankees’ closer blows a save. Even at the age of 41, Rivera still portrays an air of perfection, so those startling glimpses of his mortality can often be unsettling.
Despite the considerable amount of evidence suggesting otherwise, Rivera is a human being. After all, he has blown 68 regular season saves in his career. However, even in his failures, the future Hall of Famer has managed to stand out.
Picking Up the Pieces: Top Closers Performance In Blown Saves
Player W L W-L% ERA IP WHIP
Mariano Rivera 17 22 0.436 11.01 85 2.44
John Franco 23 37 0.383 9.99 121.2 2.67
Dennis Eckersley 15 25 0.375 12.01 81.2 2.28
Rollie Fingers 26 45 0.366 7.45 206.2 1.97
Jeff Reardon 18 33 0.353 11.96 122.2 2.5
Billy Wagner 11 21 0.344 12.68 71 2.61
Lee Smith 20 39 0.339 11.89 125.2 2.75
Randy Myers 11 26 0.297 12.34 73.2 Trevor Hoffman 12 31 0.279 17.29 76 2.92
Troy Percival 9 25 0.265 19.97 48.2
Rivera’s ability to regroup after giving up a lead is another tribute to his reliability as a closer. Compared to the other relievers who rank among the top-10 leaders in saves, Rivera heads the list in terms of winning percentage after blowing a save. The Yankees’ closer has also been relatively proficient in avoiding the walk off. On only 19 of 837 games finished has Rivera had to take a long, lonely walk from the mound while the opposition circled the bases. Among the all-time saves leaders, only Billy Wagner has been better at avoided such ignominy.
Walk of Shame
Player Walk Offs GF % SV BS %
Billy Wagner 13 703 1.8% 422 69 85.9%
Mariano Rivera 19 837 2.2% 566 68 89.3%
Troy Percival 15 546 2.7% 358 57 86.3%
Dennis Eckersley 16 577 2.7% 390 71 84.6%
Trevor Hoffman 30 856 3.4% 601 76 88.8%
Lee Smith 29 803 3.5% 478 103 82.3%
Jeff Reardon 27 695 3.7% 367 106 77.6%
John Franco 36 774 4.4% 424 101 80.8%
Randy Myers 32 548 5.5% 347 61 85.0%
Rollie Fingers 46 709 6.1% 341 109 75.8%
Breakdown of Rivera’s Walk Offs
Opposing Batters Team Date Outcome
Keith Lockhart KC 8/2/1996 Double
Moises Alou FLA 6/15/1997 E-4
Matt Franco NYM 7/10/1999 Single
Jose Valentin CHW 6/23/2000 Single
DET 6/27/2000 FC
Manny Ramirez BOS 4/13/2001 Single
Jerry Hairston BAL 9/21/2001 Single
CLE 7/14/2002 Grand Slam
Miguel Tejada OAK 8/23/2003 Double
Bill Mueller BOS 7/24/2004 HR
Justin Morneau MIN 4/15/2006 Single
David Wright NYM 5/19/2006 Single
Vernon Wells TOR 7/20/2006 HR
Marco Scutaro OAK 4/15/2007 HR
Gabe Gross TBR 5/13/2008 Single
Chone Figgins LAA 8/10/2008 Single
Ichiro Suzuki SEA 9/18/2009 HR
David Murphy TEX 8/10/2010 Single
Jeff Francoeur TEX 9/11/2010 HBP
In the 68 games in which he has blown a save, Rivera has allowed two or fewer runs in 59 (including eight blown saves with no runs allowed), which helps explain why the Yankees have been able to come back and win so many. It’s also worth noting that the four hits off Rivera in yesterday’s game were the second most he has ever surrendered. On three other occasions, Rivera allowed five hits in an appearance (including one two inning stint), but never more than that.
Games in Which Rivera Has Surrendered More than Three Runs
Date Opp Rslt IP H R ER Pit
7/14/2002 CLE L 7-10 2/3 5 6 6 32
4/6/2005 BOS L 3-7 2/3 3 5 1 38
8/2/1996 KCR L 3-4 2/3 4 4 4 28
7/16/1999 ATL L 7-10 1 3 4 4 19
April has historically been Rivera’s “weakest” month, so yesterday’s bump in the road fits nicely with that pattern. However, heading into the game, Mariano had only blown one save in 24 attempts at SkyDome. Despite the set back, his conversion rate of 92.3% in Toronto is still one of his highest on the road. Listed below is a further breakdown of Rivera’s blown saves, based on both opponent and month.
Mariano Rivera’s Save Percentage By Month
Month Sv BS % Walk offs
March/April 81 16 83.5% 7
May 94 5 94.9% 2
June 109 9 92.4% 3
July 96 11 89.7% 9
August 104 18 85.2% 6
September/October 82 9 90.1% 5
Mariano Rivera’s Save Percentage Versus Opponent
|American League||National League|
Mariano Rivera’s Save Percentage in Road Ballparks
|American League||National League|
Failure often puts success in its proper perspective. For many, it can serve as a reality check, but for the truly great ones, it almost serves as the exception that proves the rule. Such is the case for Mariano, who, even when he falls, still seems to rise above all others.
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