Over the past few years, it's been somewhat noticeable that Mariano Rivera is not the same during tie games as when he is pitching with a 1-3 run lead (in a save situation). This morning I've been rummaging through statistics and trying to find useful information to share with everyone. I believe I have come across the statistics that are meaningful and are fairly surprising to look at.
I've discovered (and partially calculated some of..) the statistics of when Mariano Rivera is in a tie game and when he is in a save situation. Keep in mind that these statistics do include yesterday's debacle in Arlington and are over the entire course of Rivera's career as of 10:45 AM on August 11, 2010.
Rivera in a save situation: 718 innings pitched in 643 games, .200 BAA, .248 OBP, .254 BAbip. Here's the best part - 1.86 ERA. Quite clearly, Mariano has absolutely dominated the MLB when he's on the mound in a save situation. 549 saves and a career WHIP of 0.912 <--- Filthy. Rivera in a tie game: 175.1 innings pitched in 176 games, .247 BAA, .312 OBP, .318 BAbip. Now, I couldn't find exactly how many earned runs Rivera had surrendered. However, he gave up 62 runs and 12 batters have reached base due to an error by a fielder. I'd say that maybe 4 of those 12 runners have come across to score (fairly realistic). So, 58 earned runs over 175.1 innings pitched is an ERA of 2.98. 62 earned runs over 175.1 innings pitched is an ERA of 3.18. So, in tie games, Rivera's ERA is somewhere in the range of 2.98-3.18. This is still a very respectable number. His WHIP is 1.35. So let me sum this up quickly... every major statistic is increased tremendously. There is a .047 jump in batting average against, .064 in on-base percentage, .066 in batting average on balls in play. The most notable difference that most people care about is the HUGE gap in ERAs. When the game is tied, Rivera's ERA is between 1.12-1.38 higher than in a save situation. WHIP is 0.43 higher. So... what gives? Over the course of his 16 year career, Rivera has proven that he pitches better when he has a small lead. I doubt it has anything to do with confidence because he is always sure of his pitches and he erases any and all bad outings from his head the day after they occur. Is this some sort of anomaly? I couldn't even began to tell you. Now, am I complaining because of this? No. He is the best of his kind and will likely be regarded as the best forever. He is my favorite baseball player next to Derek Jeter and I respect Mariano Rivera as much as any other human on the Earth. I simply just don't understand what happens when he comes to the mound in tie games that doesn't happen when he comes to the mound with a small lead. It's extremely ironic for a lack of better words. Thoughts, anyone?