Today at 1:30 pm, Yankee legend Mariano Rivera and Yankee great Mike Mussina will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. They’ll be honored alongside Phillies/Blue Jays great Roy Halladay, Mariners great Edgar Martinez, and Cubs great Lee Smith, and Orioles great Harold Baines. That’s a pretty great collection of talent right there. Should be a fun day in Cooperstown.
Mariano, of course, is the most dominant relief pitcher of all time and the first-ever unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. There are no shortage of mind-boggling figures out there to illustrate Rivera’s incredible career, but I love a good excuse to fawn over Mariano, so here are a few:
- His career 205 ERA+, which ranks him against his peers by adjusting for league/park factors, is the highest all-time among all pitchers. (Clayton Kershaw and Pedro Martinez rank 2nd and 3rd all-time, at 158 and 154, respectively.)
- His career 56.59 WPA ranks 1st among relievers and 5th out of all pitchers, placing him behind just Warren Spahn, Greg Maddux, Lefty Grove, and Roger Clemens and just ahead of Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson.
- His career 33.63 Situational Wins Saved (Win Probability Added/Leverage Index) ranks 1st among relievers and 21st all-time among all pitchers, just 0.02 behind fellow inductee Roy Halladay despite 1,466 fewer career innings pitched.
- His 652 career saves ranks 51 higher than 2nd place Trevor Hoffman, 174 more than 3rd place and fellow inductee Lee Smith, and 215 more than 4th place Francisco Rodriguez.
- In 141 postseason innings pitched, Rivera owned a 0.70 ERA, allowed just 86 hits, 13 earned runs, issued just 21 walks, recorded 42 saves, and allowed only 2 home runs.
- He won 5 World Series, recording the last out in 4 of those victories. He is also the only man in MLB history to throw the final pitch in 4 consecutive World Series (1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001).
I could go on, and on, and on, and on, of course. There was simply nobody like Mariano Rivera. Jay Jaffe’s Hall of Fame case on FanGraphs is a read to which I find myself returning quite often, so check it out yourself if you haven’t already. A-Rod also spoke with ESPN about playing with Rivera this week, which was fantastic. Check that out, too.
Mike Mussina had a mighty impressive career in his own right, though he was far from the clear-cut case that Mo was. His road to Cooperstown was winding and long, but plenty of sabermetric-minded writers and fans advocated for years for his inclusion. I have been a big proponent of Mike Mussina’s Hall of Fame candidacy for years, and it was a lot of fun to watch his vote percentage climb over the years.
And let’s be clear: Mussina is absolutely deserving of a plaque in Cooperstown. His career, which was often marked by near-misses and close-but-not-close-enough, was made up of nearly two decades of consistent, dominant performance in the steroid-era American League East. Moose was my favorite pitcher on the mid-2000s team (a formative era for me, personally) and I’m psyched to see him get this honor today. Again, Jay Jaffe really went deep into Mussina’s candidacy this year (and led the charge for years), so check that out.
These two great Yankees will receive one of the highest professional honors of their life today alongside some of the esteemed competition. For those of us not in Cooperstown today, we can check out the festivities at www.baseballhall.org, which will show the ceremony via webcast.