Rivera, who turned 40 after the season, saved 44 games with a 1.76 ERA while winning the fifth World Series title of his career -- not to mention allowing just one run in 16 postseason innings in the process. In June, he became the second player in baseball history to record 500 career saves. Later increasing that mark to 526, Rivera now trails only Trevor Hoffman's 591 saves.
It's been a banner hardware year for the Yankees, who have enjoyed plenty of attention since winning their 27th World Series title last month. Rivera has already won the Delivery Man of the Year Award, given annually to the game's best reliever, and his teammate, Derek Jeter, was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year -- becoming the first Yankee to claim that honor.
Rivera, by contrast, is the fourth Yankee to win the Sporting News' Pro Athlete of the Year Award. Ron Guidry won in 1978, followed by Joe Torre in '96 and the entire Yankees team in '99.
Two other Yankees, Jeter and first baseman Mark Teixeira, won both Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers this offseason.
The Sporting News honored Rivera alongside its College Athlete of the Year, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, and its High School Athlete of the Year, North Carolina basketball recruit Harrison Barnes.
And the accolade, like everything else in Rivera's career, is something the closer is sure to take in stride.
"You know what? I'm OK with whatever happens," Rivera told the magazine for its award story. "I'm not a guy who goes looking for numbers or chasing records."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.