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Mariano Rivera is not worthy of the Cy Young

Sep 3, 2009, 9:50 AM EDT

John Harper disagrees:

The man they call Mo is deserving, to be sure. And even though a hot September from starters such as Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez or Josh Beckett could make any of them the front-runner for the award, none is having the kind of lights-out season that would all but eliminate talk of a reliever winning.

Look, I love me some Mariano Rivera. He is, bar none, my favorite Yankee of the Torre-Girardi era. But 60 or so innings of 1.78 ERA pitching is simply nowhere near as impressive nor valuable as 200+ innings of 2.32 ERA, and that’s before you even get into peripherals. That latter number is from Zack Grienke who, if he played for anyone other than the Royals, would be cruising to 20+ wins right now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The Cy Young award is an individual award, and as things currently stand, the only reason to not give it to Zack Greinke is if you look past what he has done as an individual and give him demerits for the performance of his teammates.

Mariano Rivera is the best at what he does, and one day he will find himself in Cooperstown because of it.  But what he does is not as important as what a starter does, and that’s the case no matter how much we glorify Mariano Rivera specifically, or the role of the closer in general.

  1. planktonDisciple - Sep 3, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    era is very import, as are WHIP, hits per nine innings and hr per nine innings.
    Greinke is clearly the most dominating this year, even in a weaker division. He averages over 7 innings per start.
    Verlander is very very good, but he only leads in K’s per 9 innings.
    His era is one run worse than Greinke. Get a grip.
    Greinke leads in era, WHIP, hits per 9 innings, and hrs allowed per nine innings, while being second in K’s. It is hard for me to imagine we would be talking about anyone else if he was a Yankee.

  2. Matt @ BBD - Sep 3, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    Mariano Rivera isn’t his team’s best pitcher, let alone the league’s. I love Mariano to death but the guy should not win a CY this year. He probably shouldn’t be in the top 5.

  3. planktonDisciple - Sep 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    Rangers having a great season, but they won’t make the playoffs. Why?
    Recent injuries plus Red Sox.

  4. Rangers will beat Angels - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    Young is out only 2 weeks when we are playing week teams. He will most likely be back for the series with the Angels. The Angels are starting to stagger and the Rangers are 9-3 against the Angels. Forget Boston, we are going after the Angels.

  5. another Joe - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:10 PM

    actually the only way he gets any views and comments is to bring up the Yankees……he’s just doing what
    Fox, ESPN, and everyone else does…

  6. Jim - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    I’ll have to remember that if I ever start a baseball site.
    Talking about Yankees = views
    Suggesting that maybe not every award/accolade should go to a Yankee = comment storm and instant “controversy”

  7. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:30 PM

    Some thoughts about the whole Yankees = pageviews thing.
    1. the prominence of Yankees-Red Sox blog posts in baseball blogs has less to do with writer bias than it does with the way blogs work. For the most part, blogs are a reactive medium in that — like this post — posts provide commentary, agreement, analysis, etc. of an existing news article. As such, bloggers are “following the news.” The fact is that there are no less than five major newspapers covering the Yankees, with no other team having any more than two major papers, and even that’s a stretch. The NY papers, by the way, also carry a huge amount of Red Sox material. As such, there’s just naturally going to be more raw coverage of those teams.
    2. In addition to more raw coverage, the plethora of NY papers means that there is more blog-worthy coverage out there. Why? Because of all of the papers, writers in NY have to dig deeper to find something to write about. When they do, they tend to follow more out-there trails, make silly arguments (like Mariano for Cy Young) and generally give a blogger more and more interesting material to deal with.
    3. All that coverage leads to an already polarized atmosphere when it comes to Yankees-Red Sox. While I and most other baseball bloggers don’t set out to get people fighting, people are way more likely to fight when the Yankees and Red Sox are mentioned (see this thread and yesterday’s about Boston). Fights mean comments, comments mean page views (how many of you have refreshed this thread multiple times today?) So yes, pageviews enter into it, but it’s more a reaction to existing reader sentiment as opposed to an intentional stoking of reader sentiment.
    4. Even if there is calculation to it — and again, I don’t start the day thinking I’m going to write about about NY-Bos) ultimately, I have found that NY and Boston fans are just more passionate than are fans of the Pirates, Tigers, etc. Part of this is the nature of people from NY and Boston (I mean that in the best way possible). Part of that is that midwestern people (like me) tend not to get too out there in defending our teams. Take that for what it’s worth.
    In the final analysis, people can rail against bias in the amount of coverage, but there are very real drivers behind it, not just some choice by someone who happens to like the Yankees or the Red Sox.
    And yes: I think the media should do more to highlight other teams in order to try and stoke greater interest. Note my posts about SF and Colorado today. Note also that there are almost no comments there. We try and we will continue to, but we’re far, far from a world where all teams get equal time.

  8. Tim - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    You must have wax in your ears or some other orifice. How can you even mention the Yankees and the Rangers in the same sentence?
    Let’s see: All time record against each other, nah, Yanks win at a 750 rate against Rangers. World Series championships, let’s not even go there. This season, best record in MLB vs. 3 games out of the WILD CARD. Letting Texiera go was right up there with the Curse of the Bambino, thanks for that one.

  9. NYguy - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Hey, Tim, three sentences and three lies, especially the first one. Did you not think she would tell?

  10. NYguy - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    Tim, I would not quit your day job. If you start a site, then you better learn something about baseball first. Your lack of insight is horrible.

  11. Tim - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    I was wrong, you don’t have wax in your ears, it’s in your brain. The Yanks have had the best record in MLB for the last 2/3 weeks. The Rangers are 3 games out of the WILD card and will not even win that. Letting Texiera walk was A TRULY BRILLIANT move. 26 to zero, next.

  12. Not the your Father's Yankee's - Sep 3, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    Tim,
    Ya Atlanta was high on big Tex also. We aren’t playing the Yankee’s of the early 90’s but today’s Yankee’s and we own you. Sorry. Last I checked we took 2 out of 3 in the Bronx. Oh big Tex, um we got Neftali Feliz, Salty, the best fielding shortstop in the majors (not that no range Derrick Jeter, who I actually like btw :, but Elvis would beat him in fielding in a wheel chair, lol) and Matt Harrison plus future reliever Beau Jones. Harrison was a starter last year and would have been this year if not for injuries. Neftali owns all and will win 20 next year (including several in NY), and Elvis catches all. No we will beat you like a red headed step child.

  13. Michael Rosano - Sep 3, 2009 at 3:15 PM

    Maybe he doesn’t warrant the CY Young, but that baseballs fault for taking away the Fireman of the Year award. If you don’t want to fault Grienke for palying for the Royals, then you shouldn’t fault Mariano for being the best closer ever. What is good for the Goose……………. Mariano is deserving of an award and if that is the only award offered to all pitchers than he should be considered.

  14. Realitycheck - Sep 3, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    Sabathia supporters should do their homework. Of the nine common opponents both pitchers have faced, Grienke has a lower ERA against all of them except for one. The number in parenthesis is the number of games the pitcher has faced each team this season. If you point to wins, keep in mind that Sabathia has two more starts than Grienke.
    Bal 2.63 (4) 2.08 (2)
    Cle 2.84 (2) 2.39 (4)
    Oak 4.57 (3) 3.86 (1)
    Det 2.40 (2) 1.16 (4)
    LAA 6.08 (2) 1.13 (1)
    Tor 2.25 (1) 5.25 (2)
    TB 5.93 (2) 5.25 (2)
    Sea 4.61 (2) 0.00 (1)
    CWS 4.50 (2) 1.25 (5)

  15. Ross - Sep 3, 2009 at 4:46 PM

    “Granted 200 IP with a good ERA is more impressive than 60 IP with a great ERA, but how many of these starters have to come into a game with runners in scoring positions and only up by 1 or 2 runs?”
    Inherited runners, should they score, don’t get charged to the reliever on the mound. They get charged to the guy who let them on in the first place.

  16. JonPeter, Hartford, CT - Sep 3, 2009 at 5:26 PM

    This article sounds like a bunch of sour grapes. Of course a reliever isn’t going to get the innings of a regular starter. A starter knows in advance when he is going to pitch and starts with a 0-0 game with no one on base. In contrast, relievers, especially closers, get called on short notice, sometimes inherting runners on base and facing team that is ready to score. In a moments notice they are asked to shut down a team, preserve the win.
    Sorry, you are way off base, pun intended. of course releivers should be considered for the Cy Young award.

  17. dealdo - Sep 3, 2009 at 5:40 PM

    Mo should have won it at least once in his career, they’re afraid to vote for a closer for some reason. I think it was 2005 that it went to Colon who had an ERA around 3.5 which IMO is nothing impressive for Cy Young material.

  18. Bill@TDS - Sep 3, 2009 at 5:52 PM

    It was 2005, yes, and Santana got absolutely robbed. That he finished behind both Colon AND Rivera just made it that much worse.
    No post-1985-or-so closer has ever done enough to be worthy of Cy Young discussion. 60

  19. Bill@TDS - Sep 3, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    Huh…does this site not like the “less than” symbol? That said “60 [is less than] 200. It really is that simple.”

  20. another Joe - Sep 3, 2009 at 6:15 PM

    Craig, while I’m sure it’s somewhat true that talking about them does get views, ratings, or whatever the media involved measures, I was being somewhat facetious in that reply. Forgive my NY bred cynicism….

  21. Greenie - Sep 3, 2009 at 6:29 PM

    Because Rivera is as good as he is he may be considered but he should not win… I personally cannot accept an argument for a closer winning the CY Young unless..?? I’m not sure what those criteria are but he would have to do some seriously insane stuff. I admit that I suffer from acute bias… But compare ’09 MO to ’09 Grienke and I choose Grienke every time.
    In the mean time, lets watch Grienke get robbed this year like Santana was in ’05. Somehow CC is gonna win this and it will foster the undying-and-unquenchable-hate-that-bubbles-inside-me for all things Yankee.

  22. jim - Sep 3, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Mo could also win MVP like that one closer in 1992 did, eckersly?

  23. Tim - Sep 4, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    Who are the Rangers?

  24. Old Man Duggan - Sep 7, 2009 at 2:40 AM

    ERA isn’t affected by the offense supporting him or the unearned runs allowed, but it is affected by a severely limited defense. The Royals are statistically the worst defense in baseball by nearly every measure. Range, Zone Rating? These things absolutely affect ERA.

  25. NY Dave - Sep 7, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    How often do these Cy Young award winners regularly pitch complete games? What about any MLB pitcher?
    That’s why Mariano deserves it. The Yankees wouldn’t have ANY of those postseason wins in the 90s-00s without him.
    You cannot win without a dominant closer in the postseason. Period.

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