Mariano Rivera 600 Saves: How Important the Yankees' Closer Is in MLB History

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Baltimore Orioles on September 5, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is on the verge of becoming the second player to achieve 600 saves in his career.  He will soon be the all-time saves leader, surpassing Trevor Hoffman, who is the current record holder.  As he reaches this milestone, we reflect on where Rivera stands—not only in Yankees history, but MLB history as well.

There is absolutely no debating the fact that Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time.  His countless playoff contributions, as well as his durability during the regular season, has made Rivera irreplaceable to the fullest extent of the word.

How many times has Mo come into a tough spot with runners on and a small lead?  How many times has Rivera pitched two innings or more to help bridge the gap to victory for the Bombers? 

More times than any of us can count.

In relation to the core four, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, none have had the impact Rivera has had.  Now, that is not to say those other Yankee legends haven't done a great deal to help the Yankees the past 15-plus seasons, but none have been even close to as consistent as Mariano Rivera. 

On top of that, none are the greatest of all-time at their respective positions.

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Rivera is.

As age has gotten to the other three, making numbers less consistent over time, Rivera remains strong. And despite a rough patch in the 2011 season, he is still the best at his position in the MLB. 

There is no arguing that.

As far as MLB history is concerned, like I said, Rivera is the greatest of all-time at his position.  Some may denounce the importance of a closer, but tell that to the Yankees and their fans, who have witnessed Rivera's "Superman" ability to rescue the Yankees in their toughest spots.  Tell that to all the hitters he's struck out in big games and all the bats he's shattered. 

Rivera is as important to the Yankees as any other player in any team's history, and without him, the Yankees are not as successful as a whole.

Just ask any team in the MLB how much they would love to have a consistent closer, let alone a decade and a half of that consistency, on their team.  Rivera is in a class of his own, far above the likes of any other who played his position.  He may not be the greatest ever to put on the uniform, but he is certainly one of the most valuable.

For all you stat geeks who will bring in Rivera's WAR numbers, keep them in your pocket protectors.  The Yankees would have been much worse off without Rivera.  And if you think otherwise, you need to get your head checked because you haven't been paying attention the past decade and a half.