The Yankees just wrapped up another world series championship making it 27 world titles, the next closest is the Cardinals with 10. This current Yankee dynasty (1996-2009) has five. Four Yankee players have been around for all five titles. Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera. So the question is who is the real MVP of this bunch.
The first two are easy to eliminate. Pettite who has been real good for a long time including 18 postseason wins which is most all time. He's been good but not great and he spent three seasons with the Astros so he's out. Posada has been the backstop for the Yankees his whole career but his postseason batting average is .239 hardly memorable. So that leaves two.
Jeter is the captain, a great player and will ultimately have his number retired by the Yankees. He has many memorable plays and hits that will go down in baseball lore. The Yankees are like no other baseball team, your success is defined by how you play in October (yes I know the world series is in November now, but I refuse to believe it). Mariano Rivera has been the backbone of this team in the World Series without Rivera where would they be.
I will give you one example of what a great team looks like that doesn't have a closer. The Atlanta Braves made the playoffs and won the division an incredible 14 straight seasons. They have 1 world series ring. Why? because they had no closer. They won more than 100 games six times during that stretch and had one of the best pitching staffs ever including three probable hall of famers.
In the 13 seasons that the Braves didn't win the world series when they made the playoffs their closer's had exactly one save in 74 games in the deciding series. Mariano Rivera had five this year. You put Mariano Rivera on that team and there is no reason to think they couldn't have won a few more titles. You put Jeter on that team maybe they win one more. Although he would be a huge upgrade over Jeff Blauser.
During Derek Jeter's regular season career his batting average is an impressive .317 with an OPS .847 considering Jeter's popularity and his probably of 3,000 hits those are hall of fame numbers. In the postseason he manages to stay close to those numbers. His postseason batting average is .313, while his OPS is .863, very comparable to his regular season numbers.
Rivera on the other hand somehow manages to go from great in the regular season to amazing in October. His career ERA in the regular season is 2.25 which is best amongst all active pitchers. In the postseason while pitching in 88 games his ERA is an outstanding 0.74, that's best all time. In 133 of innings pitched he's walked 21 batters and given up two home runs while collecting 39 saves and eight wins.
I'm not saying Derek Jeter isn't great. I'm saying Mariano is better than great, whatever word that may be. Teams have to face the Yankees knowing that if they are losing by the eighth inning the game is all but over. If you also account for the fact that in the postseason you are facing the best teams, with the best hitters. In late innings If Rivera ever did let a runner on base who wasn't fast he would see a pinch runner. He also never faced a pitcher or a poor hitter because the opposing manager emptied his bench to bring up his best pinch hitter.
Even with the best teams bringing up their best players to face Rivera he only lost one time in 88 games. Phillies closer Brad Lidge pitched in 1 game this world series and lost. Not only is Rivera the MVP of this team he might be the best postseason player ever.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!