Mariano Rivera capped off a spectacular career this year, the undisputed greatest closer in history. He came back from a knee injury that shut him down in 2012 to get 44 saves with a 2.11 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, earning the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award in the process. The season was a farewell tour for Rivera, with ceremonies in his honor in cities all over the country and teams he’s beaten far more often than not over his 19-year Major League career showering him with gifts and accolades. He retires with a reputation not just for unrelenting excellence on the field but for humility, charity, and great character.
David Ortiz came back from an injury early this season just in time to rally a city shaken by the marathon bombings, declaring live on television, “This is our fucking city.” He led a team which last year dissolved in recriminations, foul attitudes, and fouler baseball to the top of the table in one of the greatest worst-to-first turnarounds in history. He was the indisputable leader of a team that embraced the city, played hard, and was a joy to watch every day. He then capped off the year by going 11 for 16 with two home runs and six RBIs in the World Series, getting more than a quarter of the total hits for the team (and eight walks to boot when they pitched around him) and giving a dugout speech at a crucial moment that other members of the team credit for their rally in the series, all to win his third World Series for the Red Sox.
But yeah, totally, Peyton Manning’s year was bigger.