I’d love to see Sheff win, but I’d love to see Mo win, too. It seems like this is a real possibility, as well. I was mulling it over while reading an entry by Steve Bonner today.
Peter Gammons picked him last night on ESPN. Reggie says he should be considered. Other people, too.
A pitcher winning an MVP? Since the Cy Young award was created in 1956, it has only happened 9 times (out of the 97 MVP awards handed out since then). All 9 times that pitcher also won the Cy Young. A relief pitcher winning an MVP? That has only happened 3 times in the same span. Dennis Eckersley in 1992, Willie Hernandez in 1984 and Rollie Fingers in 1981.
What type of seasons did they have?
Eckersley went 7-1 with 1.91 ERA and 51 saves in 69 games and 80 innings. He was 6th in games and 1st in saves.
Hernandez went 9-3 with a 1.90 ERA and 32 saves in 80 games and 140.3 innings. He was 1st in winning percentage, 1st in games and 3rd in saves.
Fingers went 6-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 28 saves in 47 games and 78 innings. He was 10th in winning percentage, 2nd in games and 1st in saves.
Mariano is currently 4-2 with a 2.02 ERA and 51 saves in 71 games and 75.6 innings. He is 9th in games and 1st in saves.
He can do it on numbers alone. (I’d like to see him pitch one more shutout inning save, to give him 52 and hopefully knock that ERA below 2, but that really doesn’t matter).
However, there is more to it than numbers, of course. Ponder this:
… But I’ll go out on a limb here and take Mariano Rivera. He’s saved 50 in 54 chances, been as unhittable as usual (2.05 ERA, ,216 opponents’ batting average), and most important, has solidified the New York bullpen when the rotation has scuffled. Without Rivera, Yankee relievers would have a 4.84 ERA, well below the league average. Really, this is a two-man situation: Without Rivera and Tom Gordon, who’s been equally effective in an eighth-inning role, the Yankee pen’s ERA swells to 5.57. Since Rivera’s doing the heavy lifting at the end of the game, he gets the nod. It’s the old criterion: Where would the club be without him? Certainly not in first, and maybe not in the playoffs.
Rivera has saved a franchise-record 51 games against four blown saves. For all the chanting at Yankee Stadium that Gary Sheffield is the MVP, and all the chanting about Manny Ramirez here, maybe it should be Rivera.
Rivera certainly is the MVP of the era. He is the latter-day Babe Ruth, the chief tormentor of the sport’s most tormented team.
If Boston had Rivera, its history would be different.
How does a team win 100 games (well, if we can go .500 for the final 6, that’s what we’ll have done) with a bullpen (excluding Mo) that gives up more than 1 run per every two innings pitched?
We are going to do something at MarianoRivera.com for this. I believe we’ll make some sort of graphic available to other webmasters, etc. Mo for MVP or something. I’ll post when we do it…