1500/150 Benchmark - Mariano Rivera
“Mariano Rivera is the best
reliever in baseball history.” If I were to make such a claim,
there would surely be fans who would agree with me and many who would
not. And, of course, all would want to know on what basis I made
such a claim.
In trying to establish reasonable benchmarks for Hall of Fame numbers,
I naturally came up against the question: Since a relief pitcher who
has never been a starter will normally pitch many fewer innings than a
starting pitcher, how are you going to determine whether a relief
pitcher has HOF numbers? Obviously, the same standards cannot
apply for a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher.
In wrestling with this question, I looked at the careers of all the
great relief pitchers to try to establish a benchmark that would
recognize the best – but would not be “too easy.” And I believe
that I have accomplished this task.
Consider the following statement. I have found only five pitchers
in the 20th century who have achieved a CAWS score of 150 while
pitching fewer than 1500 innings. Here are those pitchers.
So, I have established the 1500/150 benchmark as the standard for
relief pitchers to have HOF numbers. And, as you can see, none of
these pitchers comes anywhere close to what Mariano achieved in his
career – even though Bruce Sutter is in the Hall of Fame.
Notice how tightly bunched the numbers are for the other four pitchers
on this list – with a CAWS score from 156 to 164 – a spread of only
nine points. Then note that Mariano has a CAWS score of 199 – a
full thirty-five points ahead of Lee Smith.
And, in case you are wondering about some other relievers, here are the
numbers for some of the best ever. Note that none of them
achieved the 150 CAWS benchmark.
So, you can see why I feel very comfortable in saying that Mariano
Rivera appears to be the best “pure” reliever in baseball history.
Hoban, Ph.D is Professor Emeritus of mathematics at the City University
of N.Y. He
has been an avid baseball fan
for over 60 years and has become a serious baseball analyst, since
joining SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) in 1998. He is the author of five baseball
books including: DEFINING
GREATNESS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (Booklocker, 2012)
COMPLETE PLAYERS (McFarland: 2000) and FIELDER'S
CHOICE (Booklocker: 2003).
Email Prof Michael Hoban