Mariano Rivera is Crazy Good

How good is the question I decided to attempt to answer. First I collected the data for 30 of the top relievers in the business. From save-record setting closers like Francisco Rodriguez to relievers only this site would fawn over like Scott Downs. I then took their tRA, subtracted .35 to get on a ERA scale, and multiplied that by innings pitched divided by nine. Here are those results:

Reliever IP tRA pLI Pre-LRS
Rivera 70 1.11 1.92 31
Kuo 69 1.75 1.09 26
Marmol 87.3 2.49 1.46 25
Papelbon 66.3 2.03 1.59 23
Fuentes 62.7 1.97 2.01 22
Wood 65.3 2.11 1.99 22
Lidge 68 2.31 1.91 21
Balfour 58.3 2.08 1.26 20
Nathan 66 2.65 1.93 18
Broxton 69 2.78 1.7 18
Soria 67.3 2.82 1.78 17
Downs 70.7 2.95 1.6 17
Devine 45.3 1.93 1.36 16
Saito 45 2.04 1.73 15
Jenks 61.7 2.89 1.75 15
Arredondo 61 3.14 1.29 13
Street 70 3.58 1.91 12
Marte 65 3.45 1.39 12
Rodriguez 68.3 3.59 2.54 11
Bell 78 3.79 1.77 11
Shields 63.3 3.68 1.83 10
Ziegler 59.7 3.77 1.69 9
B. Wilson 62.3 4.08 2.25 7
Hoffman 45.3 3.67 1.9 7
Capps 53.7 3.95 1.7 7
Lyon 59.3 4 1.65 7
Rauch 71.7 4.17 1.32 7
Sherrill 53.3 4.07 2.02 6
Corpas 79.7 4.57 1.37 5
Romero 59 4.39 1.52 5

 

My next question was this: should J.C. Romero's innings count the same as Mariano Rivera's? Not due to the number next to that inning, but rather the leverage situation. Since pLI is readily available at FanGraphs I decided to add that in. Adjusting the formula by simply multiplying our "Pre-LRS" by pLI.  Call it Leveraged Runs Saved, and I included the Pre-LRS numbers in case you don't want a context-based metric.

Reliever IP tRA pLI Pre-LRS LRS
Rivera 70 1.11 1.92 31 60
Fuentes 62.7 1.97 2.01 22 44
Wood 65.3 2.11 1.99 22 43
Lidge 68 2.31 1.91 21 40
Marmol 87.3 2.49 1.46 25 37
Papelbon 66.3 2.03 1.59 23 36
Nathan 66 2.65 1.93 18 35
Broxton 69 2.78 1.7 18 30
Soria 67.3 2.82 1.78 17 30
Rodriguez 68.3 3.59 2.54 11 29
Kuo 69 1.75 1.09 26 28
Downs 70.7 2.95 1.6 17 27
Jenks 61.7 2.89 1.75 15 27
Saito 45 2.04 1.73 15 26
Balfour 58.3 2.08 1.26 20 25
Street 70 3.58 1.91 12 23
Devine 45.3 1.93 1.36 16 22
Bell 78 3.79 1.77 11 20
Shields 63.3 3.68 1.83 10 18
Arredondo 61 3.14 1.29 13 17
Marte 65 3.45 1.39 12 17
B. Wilson 62.3 4.08 2.25 7 16
Ziegler 59.7 3.77 1.69 9 15
Hoffman 45.3 3.67 1.9 7 14
Capps 53.7 3.95 1.7 7 12
Lyon 59.3 4 1.65 7 12
Sherrill 53.3 4.07 2.02 6 12
Rauch 71.7 4.17 1.32 7 10
Romero 59 4.39 1.52 5 7
Corpas 79.7 4.57 1.37 5 6

You'll notice Rivera's lead only increases. He's almost 20 runs better than the next of the best reliever. That's amazing.  Remember Rivera is 38 and only recorded 39 saves this season. For whatever reason not a ton of people talked about his season, I guess the Yankees not being a playoff team had something to do with it, yet I'm not going to accept that as a reasonable excuse.

Other notes:

- Kuo was just as good as Rodriguez, but his town mate had 61 more saves.

- Speaking of Los Angeles, both teams have three relievers listed.

- Same with Oakland, pre-Street trade.

- Can Joe Nathan get some love? Just a little?

- Marmol/Wood is the best National League combo.

- Broxton + Soria = Rivera. Seriously someone get this man some more love.

References

StatCorner

FanGraphs

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