Do you want to know why the AL has won 12 straight All-Star games? Mariano Rivera has closed for all but two of them.
The Panama Express, the Hammer of God, The Sandman. No player in the past 15 years of sports has had cooler nicknames then Mariano Rivera. He deserves every one of them.
No position in sports is more unsung and uncertain then the closer of a MLB team.
Remember Brad Lidge? One year his ERA was a miniscule 1.95 and the Phillies win the World Series. The next it’s 7.15 and the Phillies can’t close games.
That is why Mariano Rivera is the most valuable player in sports. There has been no player throughout the past 15 years more consistently prodigious than The Sandman himself.
Over the course of his career, his ERA in the regular season is a staggeringly low 2.24.
In the post season? He has a 0.74 ERA. In the World Series? 0.86. If that’s not sick enough for you, the Hammer of God has many more unbelievable stats.
He has 12-plus seasons of 30 or more saves and 9 seasons with a sub 2.00 ERA. The Panama Express’s talent hasn’t tailed off a bit either.
In 2009, he converted 44 saves out of 46 opportunities. That’s a 96 percent success rate for all you non-math majors.
This season? 6 for 6 in save situations with a 0.00 ERA. Unhittable, as usual.
There is not a single team in the league (except maybe the Dodgers) who wouldn’t trade half of their bullpen for the non-gaudy brilliance of Mariano Rivera.
At the end of every season, each player’s value is assessed when each sport’s most-coveted individual is awarded.
And sometimes players turn in amazing seasons only to disappear (see Alexander, Shaun.)
Some players are in the argument every year, such as Albert Pujols or Peyton Manning.
Over the last few seasons, the San Diego Padres have been awful. They have been decimated by injuries in their pitching staff and dealt away their Cy Young ace. They have played with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. But over the last two seasons including the current season, they always seem to start off strong and avoided finishing last in NL West last year.
All of this falls on one player’s shoulders, Adrian Gonzalez. To shouts of Yo Adrian!, the Padres first baseman has slugged his way into the conversation as a top-tier first baseman with Pujols and baseball’s newest $25 million dollar man, Ryan Howard.
The only reason he hasn’t been brought up in MVP discussions is because of the lack of talent that surrounds him every day on the diamond.
He gives the Padres a legitimate 40 homer, 100 RBI threat, all while Chase Headley is his protection in the lineup.
Even though Headley is off to a great start, he is a career .260 hitter. Not exactly Matt Holliday.
Although Gonzalez isn’t fighting Apollo Creed, he is just as valuable as Sylvester Stallone is to the Rocky franchise.