Comparing Mariano Rivera And Goose Goosage

From SABR member Cyril Morong at Cybermetrics on June 28:

Yes, relievers were used differently in [Goose] Gossage’s time. From 1977-1985, one of the time periods I will look at for Gossage, most of the top 50 seasons in both saves and games finished were by pitchers who pitched over 100 innings (with only a couple of cases of even 1 game started). From 1997-2005, the period I will look at for [Mariano] Rivera, there were no 100+ IP seasons and even 90+ IP was rare (less than 5 for both stats).

So I want to compare both Gossage and Rivera to the average relievers of their times. I picked Gossage’s 1977-1985 years since that seems to be his prime years and he was very good throughout the period. It does leave out his great 1975 season as a reliever (he was a starter in 1976). So for Rivera, I look at his first 9 years as a closer, 1997-2005 (which leaves out a very good 1996 seaon). The fact that Rivera has continued to pitch great since then is a plus in his favor. Gossage supporters might say that Rivera’s relatively low IP totals have helped his longevity. Gossage was just average after 1985.

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Originally published: June 30, 2011. Last Updated: June 30, 2011.