The Greatness of Mariano Rivera

With the 2018 Hall of Fame Class announced, it’s time to look forward to the biggest name of 2019: Mariano Rivera.

How great was Mariano Rivera? Here are some facts:

  • As a relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera had six top-10 Cy Young finishes, and five top-5 Cy Young seasons.
  • Rivera’s career ERA+ (ERA adjusted to league and ballparks) is 205 – a Major League Record (100 would be average – so Rivera was more than twice as good as the average pitcher).
  • Rivera finished an astounding 952 games and picked up 652 saves – both MLB records.
  • Rivera, in his first full season as a reliever, pitched 107 innings in relief with a 2.09 ERA. Astounding.
  • Mariano Rivera had 17 seasons with an ERA of 2.85 or lower (16 if you throw out his injury-shortened 2012 season, in which he appeared in just 8.1 innings).
  • In the postseason, Rivera was even better.  In 141 career postseason innings, he was 8-1 with 42 saves and a ridiculous 0.70 ERA.

 

Can you say first-ballot, unanimous Hall of Famer?

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Ellsbury to the Brewers?

Word began to circulate on Twitter last night, notably from the same person who predicted the Giancarlo Stanton trade and Joe Girardi firing, that Jacoby Ellsbury could be headed to the Brewers.

The Brewers are in need of an outfielder and the Yankees could be willing to throw in a good prospect, such as Albert Abreu, to make the deal work.  In exchange, the Yankees could get back someone like Travis Shaw, the 27-year-old former Red Sox prospect who hammered 31 home runs last season for the Brewers.

The Brewers have also been linked to Yu Darvish and Mike Moustakas.

We’ll see.

Cole Traded to Astros; Yankees Remain in on Darvish

Gerrit Cole was traded to the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros this weekend, ending months of speculation that Cole was going to the Bronx.  The package for Cole was, in the opinion of most experts, less than what was offered by the New York Yankees.

The Yankees reportedly offered Clint Frazier and some lower-end prospects, but refused to part with Miguel Andujar, possibly an indication that Andujar has the inside track for the 3B job.

The Yankees remain interested in Yu Darvish but continue to wait for the price to fall, or to be able to move Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract.

Various reports have the Brewers interested in Mike Moustakas, which could open up Travis Shaw for a potential trade. Shaw, the 27 year old former Red Sox third basemen batted .273 with 31 HR and 101 RBI and posted a .349 OBP in 2018.

The Yanks Reportedly Offered Yu Darvish 7 years, $160+ million / Update: No, they Didn’t.

Darvish has some of the most electric stuff in baseball, but at 31 years old it is unlikely this report is true.  The Yankees have, in recent years, balked at giving long contracts to players in their 30s.

In the post-steroid era, players are not remaining dominant into their early 40s, as they did during the first part of this century.  Players now seem to begin their decline around 32-33 years old, and by the time they are 36 or 37 they are no longer worth the investment.

However, if the Yankees could somehow get Darvish to agree to a 1-year deal for about 20 million dollars, it could be a good fit.  He would provide one more durable starting rotation option, will miss a lot of bats (which is always good in Yankee Stadium), and would be a nice fit for a team that has a legitimate chance to go to the World Series in 2018.

 

UPDATE: From Yu Darvish himself https://twitter.com/faridyu/status/951874179200102402

Do the Yankees NEED Another Starter?

There has been much talk about the Yankees possibly adding Gerrit Cole or Yu Darvish, but do the Yankees really need a starting pitcher?  Let’s take a look at the rotation and current available options.

 

Current 5-man rotation with 2017 stats:

Luis Severino (24) – 14-6, 2.98 ERA, 193.1 innings, 230 K
Masahiro Tanaka (29) – 13-12, 4.74 ERA, 178.1 innings, 194 K
Sonny Gray (28) – 10-12, 3.55 ERA, 162.1 innings, 153 K
Jordan Montgomery (25) – 9-7, 3.88 ERA, 155.1 innings, 144 K
CC Sabathia (37) – 14-5, 3.69 ERA, 148 innings, 120 K

Clearly the Yankees have five pretty solid pitchers, seeing as how the only pitcher with an ERA over 4.00 is Tanaka, who has historically been much better.  One thing that IS concerning is that none of the current five threw 200 innings in 2017, meaning the Yankees will likely need to dip into AAA for spot starts.

Here are their most likely candidates:
Luis Cessa – 0-3, 4.75 ERA at the MLB level. Cessa has good stuff, but struggles with command and is homer-prone

Chance Adams – 15-5, 2.45 ERA in 150 innings between AA – AAA.  Adams is an extreme flyball pitcher, and doesn’t have particularly overpowering stuff.  However he could succeed in the big leagues if he can keep the ball out of the air.

Justus Sheffield – 7-7, 3.12 ERA in 98 innings between rookie league and AA.  Many scouts think he is ready right now, but obviously his innings are a concern (having never thrown more than 125) and he has never pitched above A-Ball.

How Valuable is Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner is going to be 34 years old for the 2018 season, and one might think he is set to decline.  However, if you look at the trends in his production, he seems to be improving with age.

 

His On-base Percentage in 2016 and 2017 were .351 and .350, respectively. Those mark the 2nd and 3rd best marks over a full season for his career.

In 2018, he smashed 21 home runs, a career high (previous high was 17 in 2014).

Gardner’s 4.9 WAR was the second highest of his career, behind only his 2010 campaign (7.4!)

Gardner struggled at times in the postseason, but had perhaps one of the most important at-bats of the Yankees 2017 run when he battled off several tough pitches before singling to right field to add two tack-on runs in game 5 of the ALDS against the Indians.

How will Brett Gardner fair in 2018, batting ahead of Aaron Judge?