Mariano Rivera: Projecting Legendary Closer's Performance in Final MLB Season

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2013

Longtime New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has announced that he will be riding off into the sunset at the end of the 2013 season. 

The Yankee legend has been an iconic member of the organization since 1995 and will go down in history as one of the greatest Yankees of all-time. The Yankees' official twitter feed tweeted out his announcement and some quotes from the press conference. 

Rivera's presence will be missed in the bullpen in future seasons for sure, but for now, the Yankees get one more season with the dominant closer. 

So what can Yankee fans (and fantasy baseball owners) expect for Rivera's final season? Let's examine.

 

Health

According to The Star Ledger, Rivera was prepared to walk away from the game last season, but a torn ACL ended his season prematurely and didn't want to end his career on that kind of note:

If the question was would I have played if I finished the season last year, definitely, I would have been done last year. Definitely. But I didn’t want to leave like that. I felt like I wanted to give everything. And I still have something left. This year, I knew what I wanted to do. I don’t want to leave home. I want to stay home. But I know that I have a job to do. I’m here to do the best for my organization, for my teammates, to represent the organization the way I have done for 23 years of my career.

Obviously, an ACL tear is a serious injury and at 43 years old, health has to be a concern for Rivera. That being said, he's intent on ending his career on a high note and he probably wouldn't decide to play this season if he didn't really believe that he would still be able to perform. 

He's been durable throughout his career, he should be able to stay healthy this year despite the knee injury last season.

 

Team Outlook

As a closer, it's tough for Rivera to put up impressive numbers without a good team around him. Fortunately, that's never been an issue for him playing for the Yankees. 

New York won 95 games last season and offered closer Rafael Soriano 46 save opportunities. Filling in for the injured Rivera, Soriano responded with 42 saves, a 2.26 ERA and a WHIP of 1.17.

As long as Rivera is back in top shape, the opportunity will be there for him to put up another season with more than 40 saves. 

 

Stat Projection

Rivera should be locked and loaded by the time the season starts. He's clearly returning for one more season because he believes he, and the Yankees, have what it takes to put together a serious run at the title. 

There's no reason to think that the Yankees won't once again be one of the best teams in baseball, and by extension, Rivera one of baseball's top closers.

He may see fewer appearances than usual so that he can be preserved for the more important stretches of the season, but overall his numbers should reflect a player that still has what it takes to be dominant.

55 GP, 50 IP, 40 Saves, 2.25 ERA 

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