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Monday April 12, 2010 11:38 pm

The new best closer in baseball




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Jonathan PapelbonHave you ever wondered who the best closer in baseball is? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 16 years or have a burning hate for all things Yankees, you would probably say that it’s Mariano Rivera. You’re probably right. Name one closer that’s had more success over the course of his career than the Yankees’ door-slammer. You can’t. However, Rivera is 40 years old now, and while he may have a few seasons left in his rubber arm, he’ll have to pass the torch someday.

Enter Jonathan Papelbon, the next best closer in baseball that belongs to the Yankees’ rival Boston Red Sox. Both have spent their entire careers with their powerhouse franchises, and while Rivera is a surefire bet to reach the Hall of Fame, if Papelbon continues the success he’s enjoyed since 2005, he’ll find a spot next to Rivera someday. Being 11 years younger than Rivera puts Papelbon in his prime, and he’s made a case that he is a better closer than Rivera in recent years.

Over the course of the last three seasons, Papelbon has actually outperformed Rivera. He has 116 saves to Rivera’s 113; his ERA is 2.02 where Rivera’s is 2.12. He’s also thrown 237 strikeouts while Rivera only has 223. Rivera does lead in innings pitched and WHIP however, 208-1 to 195.2 and 0.90 to 0.97 respectively. With Rivera’s advanced age, this may be a defining season in the argument over who is actually the better reliever.

Right now it’s easy to say that Rivera is the best closer of all-time, but it’s less easy to say that Rivera is the best closer of right now. In the next 10 years, Papelbon will have an opportunity to prove his case. A lot of people will always say that Rivera is better because he has more of the things that don’t show in the boxscore. While Rivera may have better “stuff”, Papelbon is getting results, and it’s hard to ignore the facts.

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