Mariano Rivera Player Projection No. 76

Key Stats: This is probably the easiest player to write about every year. I could just same what I said last year. Or the year before. Or the year before that. It just doesn’t change with Mariano Rivera. He doesn’t age.

He’s had 9 straight seasons with at least 30 saves and since turning 40 he’s saved 77 games. His WHIP has been below 1.13 for 14 straight seasons and since turning 40 his WHIP has not been above 0.90. He had 7.5 strikeouts for every one walk last year.

Skeptics Say: I’d love to say age is going to catch up with him, but it won’t. We will tell stories to our grandkids about him and they’ll tell us to be quiet because they want to listen to the broadcasters analyze his cutter for the billionth time as he’s closing it out as an eighty-year-old. Seriously his ERA has been below 2.00 for four straight years. This is as safe a 42-year-old pick as we may ever see again (unless steroids make a comeback).

Peer Comparison: Rivera is the number nine reliever, but really the number seven closer in the CBS rankings. Among the players ranked ahead of him are J.J. Putz, Heath Bell, Drew Storen and John Axford. All of them are good closers don’t get me wrong, but I’m still going with Rivera. Disregard name recognition and just go by the numbers.

Player

Innings

K:BB

ERA

WHIP

Rivera

61.1

7.50

1.91

0.90

Putz

58

5.08

2.17

0.91

Bell

62.2

2.43

2.44

1.15

Storen

75.1

3.70

2.75

1.02

Axford

73.2

3.44

1.95

1.14

Rivera has everyone beat in all categories except innings. Also keep in mind for Bell that he will be leaving Petco.

Team Outlook: Only Jonny Venters and Tyler Clippard finish the year with more holds than David Robertson last season. All signs point to Robertson coming back down to earth this season. He had a WHIP of 1.50 in 2010 (although his walk rate hardly moved). Bill James projects his BABIP against will rise 37 points versus where it was last year. All of this will of course have a ripple effect on Mariano. Joe Girardi won’t want to use Mo on back-to-back nights, so the confidence in Robertson is a must.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #9 Relief Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #3 Relief Pitcher & #66 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #2 Relief Pitcher & #116 Overall; RotoChamp: #99 Overall
Projection: With Mo, keep the projections pretty simple just look at last year’s numbers and adjust slightly.

3 wins 37 saves 1.97 ERA 0.96 WHIP 57 K in 61 innings