He is the “irreplaceable” Yankee, yet Mariano Rivera was replaced pretty effectively last year.

Rafael Soriano delivered 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA and was arguably the second-best closer in the American League behind the Rays’ Fernando Rodney.

Yet, when Rivera announced he was retiring after this season, the sentiment repeated and repeated and repeated was there never will be another Rivera. And I think that is the correct representation.

Rivera might be replaceable in any single year. But, as Derek Jeter said, “good luck finding someone who can do it for 17 or 18 years. Maybe you will, but you know, good luck.”

What makes Rivera unique isn’t one season. One season is replaceable. It is all of the seasons. His ERA from 1996-99 was 1.95, from 2000-03 was 2.37, from 2004-07 was 2.05 and from 2008-12 was 1.72. And, of course, he is the greatest postseason performer ever.

He also is among the most durable relievers in history. His 14 seasons of 60 or more appearances is a record. He has 141 postseason innings on top of that — the equivalent of two more seasons.

But it is something harder to quantify that has differentiated Rivera from his peers, made him stand apart. Every team wants to get to its closer because it signifies a late lead. However, the Yankees’ entire psyche has been built around handing games to Rivera. As his catcher, coach and now manager, Joe Girardi says he has mentally ticked off how many outs until Enter Sandman.

That has been accentuated in the playoffs, where Rivera has 31 saves of four outs or more, including 14 saves and six wins when he pitches at least two innings.

But, if anything, Rivera’s presence and personality mean more when he actually blows a save. Failure can rattle a pitcher (especially in New York or the playoffs) then infect a whole team. However, when Rivera fails his self-assurance never wavers and, because of that, neither does the Yankees’. They don’t believe a failure on Monday has anything to do with Tuesday.

“Brad Lidge was my closer in Houston [from 2004-06],” Andy Pettitte said. “Brad Lidge was a great closer, but he could get shaken a little bit. This guy [Rivera] doesn’t get shaken.”