Six hundred saves is a much more amazing physical and mental accomplishment than six hundred home runs. Way to go, Mo!

And fuck you ESPN, for having a picture of Tim Wakefield–a fucken geezer knuckleballer–on your front page and not Rivera. Two hundred wins is *nowhere* near the accomplishment of six hundred saves. Over one hundred pitchers have two hundred wins, and only *TWO* pitchers have six hundred saves. Fucken assholes.


  1. says

    That does seem a bit odd. Wakefield has been in the major leagues for 20 years, giving him an average of 10 wins a season. Yawn.

    Mariano Rivera is only the second person to get 600 saves in the history of baseball. In the era of specialists, we might never see anyone come close to this record.

    Boo on you, ESPN. Boo.

  2. Vorn says

    Saves are easier to get than wins: a closing pitcher gets more save opportunities than a starting pitcher (or other pitcher) gets win/loss opportunities, and a higher percentage of save opportunities are converted into saves (not least because a save opportunity starts with your team in the lead). Rivera has had 46 save opportunities this year, and converted 41 of them. Meanwhile, Ian Kennedy has the best w/l in the league at 19 wins in 23 decisions, just half as many chances to succeed.

    In addition, saves are somewhat often derided as being relatively meaningless, especially for a pitcher like Rivera who rarely plays more than one inning: this year he pitched 57 innings in 59 games. Nearly any game he enters with a lead of three or less is a save opportunity, and he’s likely, even if he had a league-average ERA of 4 (his is a more impressive 2.05), to get out of the inning without screwing up badly.

    I’m not too terribly surprised that saves get kind of pushed off: when you’re the one guy that gets all the chances (Rivera is the only active Yankee with more than 14 save opportunities over his entire career), and your job is in a certain sense easier than that of some of the people you’re getting compared to (the best active starter in this sense, Roy Halladay, has a .671 career win/loss; Rivera’s save record is .914 since 1999, the first year save opportunities were counted, and this is pretty typical from what I can see of regular closers), it’s not really seen as impressive.

    But it is.

    (statistics source: MLB)

  3. carlsonjok says

    Don’t get me wrong, I love The Sandman. For my money, the only reliever in the same league is Hoyt Wilhelm. But, it is hard to draw any overall conclusions about the relative merits of pitchers by using the save as a measure.

    First, the save is a relatively new statistic, not being added to the official stats until 1969. Further, the role of closer is relatively new phenomenom. If you look at the years the first relievers won the Cy Young Award, Mike Marshall and Sparky Lyle average 2.5 and 1.9 innings per appearance. Mo has only gone more than one inning in three games this year.

  4. jakc says

    Its a lot harder to throw a knuckleball than a baseball, so stop tagging on Wake. He’s a classy guy and it’s nice to see him get some recognition. If Mo is so great, then why does he pitch fewer innings a year then Wakefield or Jeremy Guthrie? He shoulduld have been starting all of these years. Saves are overrated and the closer is the most overrated position

  5. Genomic Repairman says

    Wake has a shit ERA and his stats are padded by a stellar offense and a solid defense. Besides he also has the luxury of pitching in lower pressure events than Mo does. Every time Mo crosses the white the game is on the line.

    Fucking Wake is a less successful Jamie Moyer and at least Moyer won more than 20 games twice junkballing.

  6. says

    I have never really liked “wins” as a stat. You can give up 10 runs in 2 innings and still get a win, as long as your team gets 11 before you leave the game–does that mean you did a good job pitching and deserve to be praised for it? At least the save takes into account a potentially high-pressure situation.

    <3 you Mo!

  7. BikeMonkey says

    An also ran. You have not really watched baseball if you have not experienced Hoffman striding in to Hell’s Bells to save a team that actually needs the saving. Awesome.

  8. Midnight Rambler says

    Pfft. Saves are a fake statistic. All it means is you pitched one inning and managed to not lose the lead you already had.

  9. justawriter says

    @Dr Becca, you are correct in principle, but wrong on the details. A starting pitcher must complete five innings to get a win. A reliever, OTOH, can throw one pitch (resulting in the third out, obviously) and if his team takes the lead in the following half inning, he will get the win.
    The main reason to deemphasize the save is that it implies a reliever who has retired the opponents six best players in the 7th and 8th innings has done something less important than the closer who then retires the three worst hitters in the 9th. The result is that the former pitcher will be paid $500,000 while the latter will receive $5 million.

  10. Genomic Repairman says

    Who is to say that the closer is retiring the three worst hitters?

    Also usually when the closer comes into the game they maybe benefit from one inning of offensive production at most, a starter receives like you said at least 5 innings of offensive support.

  11. P Smith says

    Sorry, blogger, I’ve got to disagree. To survive as a knuckleballer in this era *is* an achievement.

    First, Wakefield had to deal with all the steroid monkeys, anywhere from 20-60% of all players. With so many juiced up hitters, pitchers had to resort to juicing to keep up. Wakefield didn’t, throwing slow stuff yet still getting outs and strikeouts.

    Second, for the past 20 years the strike zone has been strinking to the size of a shoebox and is strinking even more. Knuckleballers have never been known for their accuracy (e.g. Niekro), so for Wakefield to survive and put up 200 wins requires he be both accurate AND know how to get the ball past those unnatural freaks.

    Reaching 200 wins when he had two huge disadvantages is remarkable and deserving of notice.


  12. physioprof says

    You misunderstand the role that anabolic steroids play for pitchers. Hint: it’s got nothing to do with blowing the ball past anybody.

  13. ChasCPeterson says

    Wins and Saves are both stupid statistics, so trying to compare them is stupid-squared.
    And to be a successful junkball pitcher is a real achievement no mattter what you’re counting.
    And I’ve got nothing against Rivera, a fine pitcher of course, but closing for the Yankees is not a particularly onerous gig.

  14. Genomic Repairman says

    P Smith, Wakefield may have had to face juiced up hitters but he also had them giving him run support as well too. It goes both ways man.

  15. justawriter says

    @Genomic repairman You misunderstand my point. What I am saying is that in a given game the highest leverage plate appearances probably won’t occur in the ninth inning. Yet a closer will get more notice (and commensurate higher pay) for pitching a string of ninth innings where he comes in with no men on base than a pitcher who is brought in to an equal number of innings with (for example) two men on and one out in the seventh or eighth inning.

  16. Ava, Oporornis maledetta says

    Hey, go easy on my man Wakey. He’s a tremendous professional and does a great deal of quiet charity work, too. He has always done whatever the team needed, including pitching relief during playoffs and other tight spots. He throws a boutique pitch that, when it works right, is almost magical. He deserves this milestone.

    Mo Riviera is absolutely great. I’ve told my baseball watching buddies many times that I’d shake in my shoes if I ever had to face him and that death stare. He deserves tons of credit. But not at the cost of dissing Timmy!

  17. Ava, Oporornis maledetta says

    ChasC #16, you’ve got a point. A pitcher’s win/loss record (any pitcher’s) leaves out an awful lot, and a game he was winning can be blown after he leaves it. Even Cy Young (figuratively) can’t control a game after he’s been relieved.

    I’ve seen plenty of games where the pitcher would get the win if only he’s get some run support, and he doesn’t.

    In short, comparing Wake and Mo is like comparing apples and oranges. Each man has had a major achievement, that’s all.

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