On Saturday, all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera will formally announce that the 2013 season will be his last in the majors. He will retire with a handful of World Series rings and the unofficial title of greatest closer in baseball history.
How great has Rivera been over his career? Let's look at a few examples, comparing Rivera's accomplishments to those of various Mets greats.
Entering the 2013 campaign, Rivera has notched 608 saves. That's more than twice the amount recorded by John Franco on his way to becoming the Mets' all-time leader and surpasses the combined total posted by Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco, Billy Wagner, Tug McGraw and Roger McDowell by 70 saves. It should be noted that those five pitchers rank No. 2 through 6 all-time on the Mets' saves leaderboard.
Just four pitchers in Mets history have recorded a single-season ERA under 2.00 with at least 50 innings pitched. Tom Seaver (1.76 ERA in 1971), Jesse Orosco (1.47 ERA in 1983) and Dwight Gooden (1.53 ERA in 1985) accomplished the feat once, while Tug McGraw (1.70 ERA in both 1971 and 1972) is the only Met to have two separate sub-2.00 ERA seasons. Mariano Rivera has 11 such seasons, including eight sub-2.00 ERA campaigns over a nine-year stretch (2003-2011).
Only six Mets relievers (Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco, John Franco, Armando Benitez, Billy Wagner, Francisco Rodriguez) have been selected to represent the team in the All-Star Game, combining to appear in eight Midsummer Classics. (Orosco and Wagner were selected to two All-Star Games.) Rivera has gotten the call a dozen times.
And although we're loath to admit this as Mets fans, we have to acknowledge one more important fact about Mariano Rivera. Rivera has saved 42 postseason victories for the Yankees. The Mets have 43 postseason victories ... period.
Tom Seaver has always been known as "The Franchise" to Mets fans. And why wouldn't he be? After all, he holds virtually every pitching record for the team and won two pennants and one World Series during his 12½ seasons in New York.
When Seaver was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992, his name was on a record 98.8% of the ballots. Former teammate Nolan Ryan, Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr. and Kansas City Royals great George Brett came closest to Seaver's percentage, but couldn't quite match him. Mariano Rivera will become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019. Surely, he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. But can anyone see him not getting at least 98.8% of the votes?
Derek Jeter has contributed greatly to the Yankees during their near-two decade run of excellence. But as much as he's meant to the franchise, Mariano Rivera has been "The Franchise" in the Bronx. Rivera is to the Yankees what Seaver was to the Mets. And all baseball fans, even Mets fans, have to agree that there will never be another closer like him.