Recently, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame announced that the greatest closer in the history of the sport will soon be taking his place among the legends of baseball in Cooperstown. The Tampa Bay Rays and Devil Rays had the misfortune of facing him more than almost every other team in baseball. I took a look at how Rays hitters fared…
Mariano Rivera, a Yankee great and AL East foe, tormented Tampa Bay Rays and Devil Rays hitters for 16 seasons. He only faced the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles more over the course of his 19 year career.
But before we break down just how dominant he was against the Rays, let’s take a look at how great he was in general. He played on 5 World Series winning teams, he was a 13 time all-star and he finished third or second in Cy Young voting 4 times.
Rivera holds the all-time record for career saves (652) while touting a career earned run average of 2.21. He struck out 1173 hitters while only walking 286.
The Sandman appeared in at least 60 games 15 times in 19 seasons while leading the league in saves 3 times. Having watched him in person numerous times, when he came in to close out the 9th, the game was over… it was as simple as that.
When you watch a player like Rivera play against your team, you just watch in awe. He had the same jaw dropping effect that Trout has or Jeter had. I doubt we will ever see someone dominate as he did for as long as he did ever again.
Of his 1,115 career games, roughly 9% (9.23) of this came against the Rays. Of his 652 career saves, roughly 10% (9.82) came against the Rays. The only team that he recorded more saves against was the Baltimore Orioles, who he pitched against 33 more times.
Stats v.s. the Devil Rays and Rays
To say that he tormented Rays hitters would be an understatement. But if you think those numbers are good, just take a look at his numbers at Tropicana Field.
Stats while pitching at Tropicana Field
In stadiums where he pitched at least 10 innings, Rivera only posted a lower earned run average at Comerica Park (.54 ERA in 16.2 IP) and U.S. Cellular (1.11 ERA in 48.2 IP). He only saved more games in Yankee Stadium (314) and Camden Yards (43). Tropicana Field was practically a second home to Mariano Rivera.
I’m sure the Tampa Bay Rays were happy to welcome him to the Trop for the last time in 2013 with a sand sculpture which can be seen here.
Fun Fact: Current Rays manager, Kevin Cash, caught the Hall of Fame closer 3 times, totaling 4.1 innings.
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Mariano Rivera had a fantastic career and sadly a large part of that career came against Rays hitters that he sat down without much of a fight.
Congratulations on a fantastic career Mariano Rivera!