I’ll peruse Mariano Rivera’s Baseball-Reference page every now and then because the numbers never cease to amaze me. For 19 years, he made the best baseball players in the world look silly. He closed so many epic games and left Yankee fans with great memories.
I was particularly amazed by this stretch of dominance in 1996. This is really where Rivera’s legend began:
April 19th, 1996: Mariano Rivera relieves Dwight Gooden in the fourth inning and throws three shutout innings against the Twins.
Three days later, he relieved David Cone in the sixth and threw three perfect innings against the Royals.
Four days later, he threw three no-hit innings against the Twins, again.
Two days after that, he threw three more no-hit innings against the Twins. This was when Twins manager Tom Kelly said this classic line: “We don’t want to face him anymore. He’s too good. He belongs in a higher league. He should be banned from baseball.” This was a month before Rivera recorded his first career save.
Two days after that, he threw two perfect innings against the Orioles, because why not.
Three days after that, he threw two no-hit innings against the White Sox.
Anyway, this went on for awhile. His stats between April 19th and May 21st were absurd: 25 innings pitched, 7 hits and 0 runs allowed, 4 walks, and 24 strikeouts. That’s a 0.440 WHIP. Players hit .086/.129/.099 against him in mostly high leverage situations. And then he went on to save 652 games plus 42 more in the postseason.
The great thing about Rivera’s career is that the numbers only tell part of the story. His real excellence lied in his grace under pressure and quiet intensity. He was a role model for me and many others when we first watched baseball. He had a transcendent career, one that went above and beyond his amazing numbers.
But the numbers are pretty cool too. Here are some other stats I found:
Leadoff hitters hit .182/.232/.244 against Rivera. In 19 years, four leadoff men hit home runs against him.
Rivera had an 0-2 count on 1,145 hitters. 517 of them struck out.
Only two teams hit higher than .250 against Rivera – the Angels (.273) and the Cubs (.313 in only four games).
Playoff stats: 141 innings, 107 baserunners allowed, 11 earned runs. 0.70 ERA.
ALDS: 56 innings, 0.32 ERA
ALCS: 48.2 innings, 0.92 ERA
World Series: 36.1 innings, 0.99 ERA
And then there’s this: more people have walked on the moon than have scored a run against Rivera in the playoffs.