Along with being a great man, he is without question the greatest reliever in baseball history. He holds the record for most saves in Major League Baseball history with 652 saves and a 2.21 career ERA, which is the lowest of any pitcher with at least 1,000 innings pitched. What separates Rivera from every other reliever is his postseason resume, but that isn't good enough for some people. ESPN's Jim Caple wrote a piece this week about how Rivera is overrated, because he plays a position that is overvalued. His premise is that the most important outs are often in the seventh or eighth innings. Eric Karabell even listed Rivera's career postseason blown saves to illustrate that Mariano isn't actually perfect.
This is exactly what makes Rivera's postseason resume the best of all time. He's blown five saves in his career in the postseason in 47 chances, which brings his final save total in the second season to 42. Rivera ending his career with that number of postseason saves is a perfect bow on his career given that when he pitches his last inning Sunday in Houston no player will ever wear Jackie Robinson's No. 42. The fact that you can name every one of Rivera's playoff blown saves is a testament to his greatness.
The Sandy Alomar, Jr. home run in Rivera's first year as a closer in the 1997 Division Series. The Luis Gonzalez bloop single gave the Arizona Diamondbacks its only championship and prevented the Yankees from finishing an unprecendented run of four straight championships and five out of six. The Dave Roberts steal, which led to the tying run on a Bill Mueller single in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series and Game 5 of that series when Roberts scored the tying run on Jason Varitek sacrifice fly. The only blown save that wasn't anti-climactic and didn't lead to a Yankees loss was in Game 2 of the 2004 Division Series against Minnesota — a team that never could figure out how to beat the Yankees.