10 Cool Facts About Yankee Savior Rivera

Sometime soon, maybe by the time you read this, Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, will pass Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list.

Rivera has 600 saves in his career, and 42 more in the post-season. Do the math, that’s almost four full seasons of getting the last out in a Yankees win.

Perhaps the most indispensable Yankee over the past 15 years….heck perhaps the most valuable player in baseball during that time….Rivera is a Hall of Fame lock.

Here are 10 cool facts about Mariano Rivera:

1. Since he became the Yankee closer in 1997 (taking over for the departed John Wetteland), Rivera has been remarkably consistent.  He’s had at least 28 saves for 15 straight seasons.

2. Rivera actually started 10 games in 1995, his rookie year. before the Yankees realized he was born to be a reliever. That year he had a 5-3 record to go with a 5.51 ERA.

3. Since then, Rivera’s ERA has been above 3.00 just once (3.15 in 2007). His career low came in 2005, when he recorded a 1.38 ERA. Overall, he’s 75-57 with a 2.22 ERA. IMG_0343

4. Mariano has led the American League in saves three times — 45 (1999), 50 (2001) and a career-high and Yankee best 53 in 2004.

5. Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young Award. He did finish second once, third three times, and fifth once in Cy Young balloting. He finished as high as ninth in AL MVP voting in 2004 and 2005.

6. “I save games, they save lives. That’s what real heroes are all about.” — Mariano Rivera, who gave his 2001 Rolaids “Relief Man” award to FDNY.

7. Only one player in baseball, wears #42 — Mariano Rivera. That number was retired in 1997 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s “color barrier.” However players who were wearing #42 at that time were allowed to keep it until they retired. Fittingly, Rivera is the only one left.

8. Mo claims his most memorable moment came in 2003, when he pitched three scoreless innings against the Red Sox before Aaron Boone homered to win Game 7 of the ALCS.

9. Rivera’s post-season numbers are off the charts. In addition to his 42 saves, Mariano has an 8-1 record and a microscopic 0.71 ERA in playoff competition.

10. Rivera has given up just two post-season home runs in 94 games, neither to a left-hand hitter. Sandy Alomar, Jr, of the Indians (1997) and Jay Payton of the Mets (2000) are the only two players to claim a post-season home run against Rivera.

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These Active Players Headed for Cooperstown

Derek Jeter, left, and Mariano Rivera are sure bets for the Hall of Fame.

From this catbird’s seat, the SportsLifer sees nine active players heading for the Hall of Fame.

Criteria for consideration includes at least a 10-year, major league resume. Players linked to steroids, who might otherwise be Cooperstown bound, are instead banished to the Mark McGwire waiting room.

The list of nine HOFers includes three infielders, three outfielders and three pitchers, two of them relievers.  There are three other players on the cusp who will merit strong consideration by voters.

Of note, Pedro Martinez will qualify for this list once he takes the mound for the Phillies. He’s currently on the disabled list and hasn’t pitched yet this year.

Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki, each with nine years of service, will certainly be added to this list next year.

Lastly…and sadly…are five other players who would have made the list but for the needle and the damage done.

Hall of Famers

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF — Active leader, 5th all time with  621 HRs, 1798  RBIs, .286 BA, 184 SBs, 1997 AL MVP, played for Mariners and Reds, shown left

Vladimir Guerrero, OF — 396 HRs, 1289 RBIs, .322 lifetime BA, stole 175 bases, AL MVP with Angels in 2004

Trevor Hoffman, RP — All-time saves leader with 575, 2.76 ERA, played primarily for Padres, now with Brewers

Derek Jeter, SS — Captain of the Yankees, four-time World Champion, .316 lifetime BA, 216 HRs, 1039 RBIs, 292 stolen bases

Randy Johnson, P — The Big Unit, 303 lifetime wins, second all-time in strikeouts with 4867, five-time Cy Young award winner with Mariners and D’Backs

Chipper Jones, 3B — Played entire career with Braves, 417 HRs, 1416 RBIs, .310 BA, NL MVP in 1999, .364 NL batting champ in 2008

Mariano Rivera, RP — 505 saves, 2.29 lifetime ERA, post-season exploits with Yankees are unsurpassed, 34 saves, 0.80 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

John Smoltz, P — 211 victories, 154 saves, 3.27 lifetime ERA,, earned primarily with the Braves; 1996 NL Cy Young, record 15 post-season wins.

Jim Thome, 1B —  13th on the all-time home run list  with 557 dingers, he also has 1545 RBIs for Indians, White Sox, Phillies

Special Consideration

Pedro Martinez, P — Just signed with Phillies, three-time Cy Young Award winner with Expos and Red Sox, 214-99, 2.91 lifetime.

On the Cusp

 Carlos Delgado, 1B — 473 home runs, 1512 RBIs for this slugger, who played for the Blue Jays and now Mets

Jorge Posada, C — Caught for the Yankees during their late 1990s dynasty, has 231 homers and 916 RBIs…276 BA

Johan Santana, P — 119-58 lifetime, 3.11 ERA, Cy Young winner with Twins in 2004, 2006, now pitches for Mets

Omar Vizquel, SS — Known as a slick fielder with 11 Gold Gloves, he has collected nearly 2,700 hits and 400 SBs

Nine Years And Counting

Albert Pujols, 1B — 353 HRs, 1066 RBIs, .332 BA, NL MVP 2005, 2008 with Cardinals, NL batting champion in 2003

Ichiro Suzuki, OF — 1936 hits, .332 BA, 334 steals, AL MVP in 2001 with Mariners, AL batting champ in 2001, 2004

Ineligible Juicers

Jason Giambi

Manny Ramirez

Alex Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez

Gary Sheffield


Lords Of The Ringless

Best Players Never to Win a World Series

Why is Ernie Banks smiling? He won’t like this list.

It’s the club nobody wants to belong to, like the best golfer never to win a major club or the guy at the front of the line when the ticket counter closes.

Just not good enough. Close but no cigar. Losers. No player wants to be on this list. They’re The Lords Of The Ringless.

Ever wonder who are the best baseball players never to win a World Series?

Almost all of them are Hall of Famers, who will be someday. They’ve won dozens of batting titles, hit thousands upon thousands of home runs, earned MVPs, Cy Young Awards and Gold Gloves and achieved milestones such as .400 averages, 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 300 wins, 500 steals and 500 saves, just to name a few

They’ve won it all….except for a championship.

Some came close. Rube Marquard pitched in 5 World Series, came up on the wrong side every time. Don Sutton, right, the winningest pitcher on this list, and Gabby Hartnett who hit a famous home run in the dark in 1938 to get the Cubs into the World Series, each played in 4 World Series and lost every one.

Some never got to the World Series. And some of them were Cubs, like Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and more.

Several players on this list are still active, but have played long enough to make their statistics viable. Included is third baseman Alex Rodriguez and closer Trevor Hoffman on the first team, and starter Mike Mussina on the cut list.

Others, like catcher Mike Piazza and outfielder Barry Bonds, just retired this year.

Here they are, The Lords Of The Ringless. They’re the best baseball players never to win a World Series. Career highlights, teams played for and World Series appearances noted in descriptions.

FIRST TEAM

C — Mike Piazza: 396 HRs (most as catcher), 427 overall, .308 lifetime batting average, retired ’07, Dodgers, Mets, Padres, A’s ; 1 WS.

IB — George Sisler: ’22 AL MVP. two batting titles, .407 in ’20, .420 in ’22, .340 lifetime, Browns, Senators, Braves; 0 WS. left

2B — Rod Carew: .328 career batting average, 7 batting titles, AL MVP in ’77 with .388 average, Twins, Angels, others; 0 WS

SS — Ernie Banks: Mr. Cub, 512 lifetime homers, 277 as shortstop, NL MVP in ’58, ’59 as SS, later moved to IB. Cubs, 0 WS.

3B — Alex Rodriguez:: active, 522 lifetime HRs, .306 batting average, MVP 2003, ’05, ’07, Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, 0 WS.

OF — Ty Cobb; best ever .367 lifetime average, 12 batting titles; AL MVP in ’11, second lifetime in hits 4191, fourth in steals with 892. Tigers, A’s;3 WS. right

OF — Ted Williams: last man to hit .400, .406 in 41, Triple Crown winner in ’42, ’47, two-time MVP, .344 average, 521 homers. Red Sox; 1 WS.

OF — Barry Bonds; 7-time NL MVP, 4 in a row 01-04, 762 HRs are most ever, 73 in ’01 single season record. 514 SBs. Pirates, Giants, 1 WS

P — Juan Marichal; 243-142, 2.89 ERA, six 20-win seasons, 26-9 in ’68, Giants, Red Sox, Dodgers; 1 WS

P — Don Sutton: 324 career wins, most by non-champion, won 20 once in ’76, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, A’s, Angels;4 WS

P — Ferguson Jenkins:284-226 7 20-win seasons, 3192 Ks, ‘ 71 NL Cy Young; Cubs, Rangers; 0 WS

P — Rube Marquard: left-hander, 201-177, record 19 straight wins to start season, 26-11 in ’12, Giants, Dodgers; Reds, Braves; 5 WS

R — Trevor Hoffman; active, all-time saves leader with 532, led NL with 53 saves in ’98, 46 in ’06 Marlins, Padres. 1 WS

SECOND TEAM

C — Carlton Fisk: 376 HRs, 351 as catcher, 269 career average, hit famous HR in ’75 Series, Red Sox, White Sox; 1 WS

IB — Willie McCovey: 521 HRs, ’69 MVP 45-126-.320, ’77 comeback player, Giants, Padres, A’s;1 WS

2B — Nap Lajoie: .broke in with Phillies in 1896, 339 lifetime average, 4 AL batting titles; Phillies, Naps (Indians), A’s; 0 WS

SS — Arky Vaughan; 318 lifetime, won NL batting title in ’35, .385, Pirates, Dodgers; 1 WS

3B — George Kell: .306 career batting average, won AL batting title in ’49; Phillies, Tigers, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles; 0 WS

OF — Harry Heilmann: .342 career average, 4 AL batting titles, .403 in ’23, Tigers, Reds; 0 WS

OF — Billy Williams: 426 HRs, .296 career batting average, ’72 NL batting title, Cubs, A’s; 0 WS

OF — Tony Gwynn; 338 average, 3141 hits, 8 NL batting titles, .394 in ’94, Padres, 2 WS right

P — Phil Niekro: knuckleballer, 318 wins, 24 years from ’64 to ’87, Braves, Yankees, Indians; 0 WS

P — Gaylord Perry, 314 wins, AL Cy Young ’72, NL Cy Young ’78, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners; 0 WS

P — Tommy John: 288-231, left-hander, 26-year career from ’63 to ’89, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, A’s; 3 WS

P — Early Wynn, 300 career wins, Cy Young ’59, Senators, Indians, White Sox, ,2 WS

R — Lee Smith, 478 saves; Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles. Angels, Reds, Expos 0 WS

FINAL CUTS

C — Gabby Hartnett: lifetime BA .297, .236 HRs, ’38 HR helps win pennant for Cubs, Giants, 4 WS

IB — Don Mattingly: .307 lifetime average; AL batting title .343 in ’84; ’85 AL MVP, 9 Gold Gloves,Yankees; 0 WS

2B — Ryne Sandberg; .284 average, 282 HRs, NL MVP ’84, 9 Gold Gloves, Phillies, Cubs; 0 WS

SS — Luke Appling, .310 lifetime hitter, 20 years with White Sox, ’30-’50, hit HR at age 75 in ’82 exhibition: 0 WS

3B — Ron Santo; 342 HRs, .277 lifetime average, 5 straight Gold Gloves ’64-’68, Cubs, White Sox, 0 WS

OF — Carl Yastrzemski; 452 HRs, 3419 hits; MVP and Triple Crown in ’67, Red Sox, 2 WS

OF –Sammy Sosa: 609 Hrs, 5th all-time, 3 years with 60 HRs, NL MVP ’98, Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles; 0 WS

OF –Lloyd Waner: Big Poison, .333 average, 3152 hits, Pirates, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees; 1 WS

OF — Paul Waner: Little Poison, .316 lifetime, Pirates, Braves, Reds, Phillies, Dodgers, ; 1 WS (’27 with brother Lloyd)

OF — Chuck Klein: .320 lifetime, 300 HRs, ’32 MVP, ’33 Triple Crown, Phillies, Cubs, Pirates; 0 WS

P — Robin Roberts:286 career wins, 6-time 20-game winner in ’50s, Phillies, Orioles, Astros, Cubs, 1 WS

P — Ted Lyons: 260 career wins, won 20 3 times,White Sox ’23-46, 0 WS

P — Rube Waddell, 193 wins, 26-11 in ’05, left-hander,Pirates., Cubs, A’s, Browns; 0 WS

P — Mike Mussina: active, 256-147 career, .635 win percentage; Orioles, Yankees, 1 WS

R — John Franco: 424 saves, 4th all-time; led NL in saves in ’88, ’90, ’94, Reds, Mets, Astros; 1 WS