After some deliberation, Mariano Rivera has accepted a more than generous offer to stay in pinstripes. It’s a legacy deal, an outrageous sum to pay for a closer, but hey, this is Rivera and this is the Yankees we’re talking about. We knew the Yanks would overpay to keep him (as they overpaid Posada), just as it was clear that nobody else was going to give Rivera nearly as sweet a deal.
What might be more surprising is that A-Rod’s numbers were even more impressive than they appear at first glance, because of one area for which he’s traditionally had a poor reputation: his performance in the clutch. Rodriguez hit .333, with 98 RBIs and a 1.138 OPS with runners in scoring position. He hit .357 in “close and late” situations. He hit .500 with a 1.286 slugging percentage in 14 plate appearances with the bases loaded. At he hit .362 in September, as the Yankees climbed back to reclaim their spot in the post-season.
Rodriguez, of course, renewed doubts about his clutch ability with his relatively poor performance against Cleveland in the ALDS, when he hit .267 with just one RBI. In other words, he had a bad series. On the other hand, over 162 games during the regular season, he was the one guy you wanted up there when the game depended on it. Which performance do you trust more: 583 at-bats in the regular season, or 15 in the playoffs?
Yes, Rodriguez has disappointed in the playoffs in the past. But the bottom line is this. Firstly, clutch performance is mostly about luck: the same player who is clutch one year can be a choke artist the next. And two, the Yankees ought to have every bit of confidence that Rodriguez can not only get them to October, but win them a title once they’re there. Rodriguez is the MVP – and the highest-paid player in baseball – for a reason: no player provides his team with a bigger head start toward winning a World Championship.
And that’s word to Big Boid.