Mariano Rivera is so consistently good that he at times gets over looked on blogs such as this one. A writer is probably more inclined to write a Mo post if he's seeing a bad stretch of play than if he's being his usual dominant self. I try to do at least one Mariano appreciation post a year, but this year is a little different. Mariano missed most of last year with an injury. This is his swan song season (and unlike other athletes you know he means it). For a time his unreal stretch of play was getting somewhat overlooked, but now that he's gotten off to a perfect start in save opportunities to start the season the media hype surrounding his play has picked up. The saves are shiny and nice to have, but to admire them is to overlook all that Rivera is doing. Let's take a closer look. Mo's WHIP, the most important stat for a reliever, currently sits at a tidy 0.92. His ERA is a minuscule 1.56. He's allowed just two free passes and only fourteen hits this year. These are the kinds of stats that turn relievers into closers and closers into superstars. They're run of the mill for Mo. You have to go all the way back to 2007, when Rivera had a WHIP of 1.12 and an ERA of 3.15, to find a season whose numbers don't look like the one he's currently having. Every year since then its been the same thing: ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP under 1.00.
This is a convenient time to point out the most impressive Mariano Rivera statistic: According to Baseball Reference, Mo is the all-time ERA+ leader. What's more is that he's the all-time leader by a country mile. His 206 is far ahead of second place Pedro Martinez's 154. Here's the easiest way to interpret that stat. In terms of reliability for getting a single out, no pitcher has been more effective than Rivera in the history of the game. His comeback 2013 is just one more reminder of that.
Yankee fans are spoiled in a lot of ways. Rivera sits near the top of the list of reasons why. His absence will be felt next season. David Robertson remains the most likely candidate to take over the closer responsibilities once Rivera has retired. He's a fine pitcher, an excellent reliever, but he's not the greatest of all time.