At Baseball Daily Digest, I revisit another argument I had with Keane and McDonald on Pro Baseball Central back on March 4. I compare the career paths of Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner. You might be surprised at just how close Wagner is to Rivera.
The standard deviation for Rivera and Wagner’s seasons using ERA+ was 59. Only in five of the 13 seasons between 1996-2008 did Rivera have an ERA+ advantage of one standard deviation or greater over Wagner. Those years were 1996-98 (avg. advantage of 86), 2000 (+89), and 2008 (+134).
Where Rivera really has the advantage over Wagner is in the post-season. Wagner has only been there in five seasons; Rivera’s been there every year of his career except ‘08. Overall, Rivera has a 0.77 post-season ERA, including a 0.38 in the ALDS, 0.93 in the NLCS, and 1.16 in the World Series.
Wagner, meanwhile, has an overall 8.71 post-season ERA including a 5.87 ERA in the NLDS, which his team has failed to get past in four of his five appearances. Only in 2006 with the Mets did Wagner reach the NLCS.