If the rest of the league was hoping age was going to catch up with the GOAT this year, they were very quickly disabused of those thoughts. In his first Spring Training appearance, Rivera struck out the side in order on 12 pitches, and it was business as usual from then on. Though he did blow five saves, Rivera was as amazing as ever. His strikeout-to-walk ration of 7.5 was his best since 2008, as was his walk rate of 1.2 batter per nine innings, and his 3.5 rWAR. Honesty, what else is there to say about Mariano? He’s really, really good, and what he’s doing at this point in time is just unbelievable. There’s no point in even pretending to have any insight into it; we’ve never seen anything like this before and probably never will again.
The end of 2011 also saw a nice personal milestone for Mo, as he overtook Trevor Hoffman to become the all-time leader in games saved. It was a bit of a formality for someone already universally acknowledged as the best reliever ever, and the save is a deeply flawed number, but it was a very nice accomplishment nonetheless, and the Mo’s moment in the spotlight at Yankee Stadium after breaking the record was certainly very appropriate for a number of reasons.
At this point, we’re always going to try to guess what’s next for Mo, but that’s all we’re ever doing. Just guessing. Because Mariano Rivera defies comprehension. Logic says he’s going to slow down at some point, but logic’s been saying that for years and it hasn’t happened yet. At this point, a little part of me fully expects Mo to pitch forever.
But he won’t be there forever. He’s got one year left on his contract, and there have been whispers that the 2012 season might be his last. So my advice is to sit back, watch every pitch you can, and just appreciate each one. You’re never going to see anything like Mo again, and with the last two seasons bringing the careers of Andy Pettitte and (probably) Jorge Posada to an end, you might never know when he won’t be there anymore.