Mariano Rivera: King of Postseason WPA

Last month, I pulled some data from Baseball-Reference and posted the all time World Series Win Probability Added (WPA) leaders. I've gone ahead and compiled WPA data for the LCS and LDS.

I know Mariano Rivera gets a lot of opportunities to pitch in the playoffs. That's a lot of opportunities to succeed, but also a lot of chances to fail. But this, right here, is downright remarkable.

Postseasonwpa_medium

How is this even possible?

Mariano Rivera has a 0.71 ERA in 139.2 postseason innings. That's the best ERA in postseason history. The three pitchers after him threw only 30–40 innings. The next pitcher (Sandy Koufax) threw less than 60 innings. Christy Mathewson (6th in ERA) seems to be the closest with a 0.97 ERA in 101.2 innings. Let's remember three things, though:

  1. That's still not nearly as good as Mo in terms of raw numbers.
  2. Mathewson pitched in completely different run environment.
  3. Rivera pitched exclusively in high leverage situations while Mathewson worked complete games.

Rivera's 139.2 postseason innings are tied for seventh all time. The pitchers ahead of him are Andy Pettitte (3.83 ERA in 263 IP), Tom Glavine (3.30 in 218.1 IP), John Smoltz (2.67 in 209 IP), Roger Clemens (3.75 in 199 IP), Greg Maddux (3.27 in 198 IP), and Whitey Ford (2.71 in 146 IP). Those are all excellent performances, but nowhere close to 0.71.

The Top 100

Here are the top 100 players of all time by postseason WPA (pitching and hitting WPA combined):

Rk Player LDS WPA LCS WPA WS WPA Total WPA
1 Mariano Rivera 4.24 5.02 2.36 11.62
2 Curt Schilling 1.97 0.69 0.91 3.57
3 John Smoltz 2.41 0.48 0.22 3.11
4 Andy Pettitte 1.33 1.23 0.50 3.06
5 Babe Ruth 0.00 0.00 3.00 3.00
6 Orel Hershiser 0.43 2.23 0.15 2.81
7 Pete Rose 0.08 1.84 0.67 2.59
8 Art Nehf 0.00 0.00 2.51 2.51
9 Christy Mathewson 0.00 0.00 2.41 2.41
10 Orlando Hernandez 1.08 0.97 0.36 2.41
11 Rollie Fingers -0.14 0.49 2.00 2.35
12 Lou Gehrig 0.00 0.00 2.33 2.33
13 Alex Rodriguez 0.80 1.15 0.35 2.30
14 Mike Stanton 0.57 0.14 1.59 2.30
15 Albert Pujols 0.69 1.43 0.16 2.28
16 Cliff Lee 1.26 0.68 0.30 2.24
17 Roger Clemens 0.15 0.97 1.06 2.18
18 Herb Pennock 0.00 0.00 2.12 2.12
19 Allie Reynolds 0.00 0.00 2.05 2.05
20 Brad Lidge 1.03 1.25 -0.34 1.94
21 David Ortiz 0.74 0.89 0.30 1.93
22 Tom Glavine 0.53 0.31 1.06 1.90
23 Fernando Valenzuela 0.78 0.96 0.15 1.89
24 Charlie Keller 0.00 0.00 1.88 1.88
25 Home Run Baker 0.00 0.00 1.80 1.80
26 Dave Henderson 0.00 0.99 0.80 1.79
27 Jim Palmer 0.00 1.09 0.67 1.76
28 Red Ruffing 0.00 0.00 1.76 1.76
29 Manny Ramirez 1.00 0.58 0.17 1.75
30 Lenny Dykstra 0.00 1.16 0.57 1.73
31 Randy Myers 0.36 1.32 0.04 1.72
32 Jonathan Papelbon 0.19 0.90 0.56 1.65
33 Mike Mussina 0.66 0.93 0.04 1.63
34 Johnny Bench 0.00 1.00 0.56 1.56
35 Kirk Gibson 0.00 0.39 1.17 1.56
36 Bill Hallahan 0.00 0.00 1.55 1.55
37 Dave McNally 0.00 0.73 0.81 1.54
38 Gary Carter 0.52 0.90 0.10 1.52
39 Mickey Mantle 0.00 0.00 1.52 1.52
40 David Wells 0.62 0.98 -0.10 1.50
41 Paul Molitor 0.15 0.62 0.72 1.49
42 Willie Aikens 0.20 0.10 1.18 1.48
43 Chief Bender 0.00 0.00 1.47 1.47
44 Thurman Munson 0.00 0.95 0.52 1.47
45 Tug McGraw 0.37 0.00 1.07 1.44
46 Jose Mesa 0.63 0.59 0.21 1.43
47 Dave Stewart -0.70 2.48 -0.36 1.42
48 John Wetteland 0.54 0.26 0.62 1.42
49 Josh Beckett 0.28 0.13 1.01 1.42
50 Hideki Matsui -0.18 0.41 1.18 1.41
51 Edgardo Alfonzo 1.28 0.46 -0.34 1.40
52 George Brett -0.20 1.73 -0.15 1.38
53 Jim Leyritz 0.90 0.33 0.13 1.36
54 Monte Pearson 0.00 0.00 1.34 1.34
55 Lance Berkman 0.29 0.38 0.66 1.33
56 Carl Hubbell 0.00 0.00 1.32 1.32
57 Duffy Lewis 0.00 0.00 1.29 1.29
58 Bob Gibson 0.00 0.00 1.27 1.27
59 Brian Wilson 0.33 0.79 0.13 1.25
60 James Loney 0.84 0.41 0.00 1.25
61 Waite Hoyt 0.00 0.00 1.24 1.24
62 Billy Hatcher 0.00 0.67 0.56 1.23
63 Jimmie Foxx 0.00 0.00 1.22 1.22
64 John Rocker 0.89 0.18 0.15 1.22
65 Hideki Okajima 0.31 0.78 0.12 1.21
66 Ken Holtzman 0.00 0.93 0.27 1.20
67 Tris Speaker 0.00 0.00 1.20 1.20
68 Reggie Jackson 0.09 -0.22 1.32 1.19
69 Barry Bonds 0.76 -0.14 0.56 1.18
70 Sandy Koufax 0.00 0.00 1.18 1.18
71 J.T. Snow 0.89 -0.16 0.44 1.17
72 Johnny Evers 0.00 0.00 1.16 1.16
73 Scott Spiezio 0.34 0.71 0.11 1.16
74 Vic Raschi 0.00 0.00 1.16 1.16
75 Will McEnaney 0.00 0.12 1.04 1.16
76 Ken Griffey, Jr. 1.08 0.07 0.00 1.15
77 Marius Russo 0.00 0.00 1.15 1.15
78 Johnny Podres 0.00 0.00 1.14 1.14
79 Ruben Sierra 0.36 0.40 0.38 1.14
80 Eddie Plank 0.00 0.00 1.13 1.13
81 Carl Mays 0.00 0.00 1.12 1.12
82 Carl Willis 0.00 0.65 0.47 1.12
83 Duane Ward 0.00 0.42 0.70 1.12
84 Jason Isringhausen 0.66 0.40 0.06 1.12
85 Joe Niekro 0.47 0.64 0.01 1.12
86 Duke Snider 0.00 0.00 1.11 1.11
87 Kirby Puckett 0.00 0.72 0.39 1.11
88 Lefty Grove 0.00 0.00 1.11 1.11
89 Mickey Lolich 0.00 0.38 0.73 1.11
90 Bill Dinneen 0.00 0.00 1.10 1.10
91 Harry Brecheen 0.00 0.00 1.10 1.10
92 Jayson Werth 0.66 0.12 0.31 1.09
93 John Franco 0.64 0.03 0.42 1.09
94 Otis Nixon 0.23 0.71 0.15 1.09
95 Adam Wainwright 0.55 0.30 0.23 1.08
96 Francisco Cabrera 0.00 1.30 -0.22 1.08
97 Hank Aaron 0.00 0.53 0.55 1.08
98 Norm Charlton 0.12 0.91 0.05 1.08
99 Pedro Martinez 1.00 0.07 0.01 1.08
100 Sherry Smith 0.00 0.00 1.08 1.08
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