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Sunday Readers' Thread: Ford or Rivera?

February 18, 2024

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Here's a great question that came up in the discussion in an article a few weeks ago:


Between Whitey Ford and Mariano Rivera, who was the more valuable pitcher?


Note - They're both Top 10 Yankees all-time. They're both Hall of Famers. They're both iconic, but which of the two was better?


This should be a very fun topic to discuss and debate.

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13 comments

13 Comments


Melfman1
Melfman1
Feb 19

It’s a very interesting comparison because there are so many variables to consider. They played in different eras and they played different roles for their respective teams. Whitey Ford was one of my Nana’s favorite players in her youth, while Mariano was one of my favorites growing up two generations later.


Without thinking about it, my mind immediately leaned toward Mariano who I had personally watched for his entire career. But when I dug a little deeper, my opinion began change. Ford, like many other players before him, missed two full seasons fighting for his country. The Korean War cost him his age 22 and 23 seasons, after a strong debut in 1961. He also lost the majority of…


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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Feb 18

Whitey's stats are held down by Casey's under-use of him. With Houk from '61-'65 (his age 36 year), Ford averaged 37 starts a year. Under Stengel, Ford averaged 29-30 a year from '53-'60 (excluding 1957 when he only started 17, because of an injury). Even accounting for the 162-game season change, Ford should have averaged 35 starts a year for the 7 years under Casey. That's 35 more starts over his career. If you gross up his WAR by the added starts ratio, he would have 61.6 WAR, and a much clearer advantage over Mo. Whitey was the better pitcher, but Casey held him back from showing it.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Feb 19
Replying to

Doctoring the baseball is not the kind of cheating that threatens the integrity of the game, unlike PED usage or gambling. Had Ford been caught, he would have been suspended, and justifiably so, but that's as far as it would go.

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jeff
Feb 18

When choosing between an extremely dominant starter and a dominant and extremely effective closer, I go with the extremely dominant closer every time. The reason being......look, the Yankees had 19 blown saves last year. When you consider how few blown saves Mariano Rivera had per season in his career, MANY of those 19 blown saves would be WINS instead of losses. So a closer who has a very low number of blown saves in a season is a key difference between more wins or more losses for a team that season. So Mariano Rivera is my choice.

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fantasyfb3313
Feb 18

as I have said many times Mo is my all time favorite baseball player and arguably all time favorite athlete. that said, when this discussion began, my starting place was Whitey has to be ranked higher historically, right?


well, after doing a bit of research, Pinstripe Alley recent ranking of the top 100 Yankees has Mo 7, Whitey 8. Baseball Reference ranking of the All Time Top 24 Yankees (I think strictly ranked by career WAR but I do not know that absolutely) has Whitey 7, Red Ruffing 8, Mo 9. If I am correct, however, about that being strictly by WAR, it is worth noting that Whitey adds 3 to 4 points to his Career WAR with his ba…


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Len
Len
Feb 18

Whitey. He was in a class by himself. Often, the relievers had the day off when he pitched. Lots of complete games.

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