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2017 Reliever of the Year Award Presentation

October 28, 2017

CHRIS ROSE: I am Chris Rose of the MLB Network. Welcome. This is the announcement of the 2017 Reliever of the Year Awards presented by The Hartford. This was actually an award that was renamed back in 2014 to honor two of the greatest relievers, and once again we are

CHRIS ROSE: I am Chris Rose of the MLB Network. Welcome. This is the announcement of the 2017 Reliever of the Year Awards presented by The Hartford. This was actually an award that was renamed back in 2014 to honor two of the greatest relievers, and once again we are honored to have them with us this evening.
And to get us jump started, of course, we've got the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred.
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: It is a pleasure to be here. Getting to be an annual event to award the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award. Both of those awards are presented by our friends at The Hartford. I want to thank not only Trevor and Mariano for being here but also the seven great relievers that voted on this award, in addition to Mariano, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, John Franco, Bruce Sutter is and Billy Wagner.
I'd also like to thank Doug Elliot from The Hartford for your ongoing sponsorship of this award.
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This year's American League winner is Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox. He is the first player to have won both in the American League, the Mariano Rivera version, and National League, the Trevor Hoffman version in 2014. He had a 1.43 ERA, a .681 WHIP. He had 126 strikeouts, first among relievers in the Major Leagues, and of course he led the Boston Red Sox to another playoff appearance, as well as being the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game.
Craig is not here with us tonight. He has the best of all excuses: He and his wife are expecting their first child and we wish them the best of luck with that.
Our National League winner is Kenley Jansen, this is getting to be an annual event. He's the first pitcher to win in consecutive years. Congratulations on that. He had a 1.32 ERA this year, 41 saves, and of course he helped the Dodgers to their first World Series appearance in 29 years, and their 104 wins this season. Kenley is here with his family. His wife, Gianni, and his son, Kaden, so welcome to you, as well. Kenley, congratulations to you. (Applause.)
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you very much, Mr. Commissioner. We'll hear from Kenley Jansen and Mariano and Trevor in a moment. The Reliever of the Year Award is presented by The Hartford for the third straight year. You guys actually have a long-standing tradition with baseball, dating back to the 1920s when you used to insure teams, and you used to insured Babe Ruth as well. I'd like to get a look at that policy at some point. We'd like to welcome the president of The Hartford, Doug Elliot.
DOUG ELLIOT: Thank you, Chris, and thank you, Commissioner. It's a privilege to be here. On behalf of our 19,000 employees, The Hartford is so proud to present the American and National League Reliever of the Year Award. We're also honored to have as our brand ambassadors, Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera, two of the best closers this game has ever seen. Tonight, congrats to Kenley and to Craig for outstanding seasons, we're just so pleased, and I know your teams feel the same way.
On behalf of the entire franchise we're thrilled to be partners with MLB and happy to be part of tonight's festivities. Thank you very much.
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you very much, Doug. Time right now to hear from a living legend, a 13-time All-Star, a five-time World Series champion, 652 career saves and a Ph.D. in breaking bats. Mariano, you have a few words for us?
MARIANO RIVERA: Definitely. It's a privilege and honor for me to be here. But I'd like to thank The Hartford for getting me here safe and sound. Thank you very much, Doug. And the job that they have done with and the partnership with Major League Baseball, I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
Also I'd like to congratulate Craig, hopefully he will get his first save, his first -- it's a boy or daughter, I don't know what it's going to be. Hopefully safe, and they will be happy with that. And I'd like to congratulate him. Also for the great job that he did with the Boston Red Sox.
Also Kenley, done a tremendous job, amazing. I love what you guys are doing. It's a great when you see those men going there and going against those hitters. So Kenley, a great job. Continued success. So thank you very much for being here. And also it's a privilege, man, to be in your presence.
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you very much, Mariano. We appreciate it. As the Commissioner stated, unfortunately Craig Kimbrel has the best excuse in the world to not be here tonight. We don't know if they're having a boy or girl. If they are having a boy, it will come out without a moustache and beard, we are guessing. Craig does have a videotaped message for us. So here we go.
CRAIG KIMBREL (via video): Hi, everyone, thank you for this tremendous honor, I'm sorry I could not be there tonight to receive the Mariano Rivera Award from the man, himself, a man that I've always looked up to and always respect. Mr. Commissioner, Trevor, Mariano, Kenley, Mr. Elliott, I wish I could be there with you tonight. Although I'm anticipating my first child to be born, knowing that she could be here any day now, it makes it difficult to get too far away from home.
I want to thank everyone who was involved in voting for this, all the legends and Hall of Famers who made this happen. Getting respect from ex-players who have done this, means a lot to me.
Kenley, it's been amazing to watch your career so far. And to watch what you've done year in and year out. Not just this year, but I want to congratulate you on the award, as well.
I have to thank The Hartford for making this award an important part of baseball and the World Series, and finally I have to thank my teammates and coaching staff for everything they've done for me. This may be an individual award but it's not award that an individual can do on his own. So thank you for everything and you all have a great night.
CHRIS ROSE: And of course, Craig Kimbrel.
Moving on to the National League, we have with us seven-time All-Star, 601 career saves, and we appreciate him getting off his surfboard for these seven or eight minutes. Trevor Hoffman?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: You saw the weather the last couple of days in LA, didn't you? It's hard to get out of water.
First, I want to thank Doug and The Hartford for a tremendous honor to have my name attached to the Reliever of the Year Award along with The Hartford, the things you do in our community are impressive. I also want thank Mike and Becky for their continued support and help and all the things we do in and around town in San Diego. Thank you, guys.
Commissioner, thank you very much for the honor, as well, putting my name on this award. You've been a busy man handing out hardware and getting around town. So continue the things that you do in our sport and all around the country. Thank you for all your support. We've got an inbound, here (laughter). I love it. I love it.
I want to congratulate Craig on his award. First one to win it in both leagues. I had the chance to witness him in San Diego firsthand, and him go about his business, and to see his impact on the bullpen on a daily basis, and his ability to dominate the back end of ballgames was impressive. So it was fun to see him and congratulations to him.
Kenley, "dominating" is definitely a word that comes to mind. Two years in a row to win this award is a credit to you. But more importantly in getting a chance to talk to your manager and bullpen coach, two teammates and former teammates of mine, they couldn't talk more about the things you as a person and off the field and the things you do in the clubhouse, but not so much on the field. It says a lot about you as the person. Couldn't congratulate you enough. Congratulations on the award (applause).
CHRIS ROSE: Kenley, a few remarks before we open the floor for questions.
KENLEY JANSEN: This is awesome. To be recognized as just sitting here with the best relievers in the game, and to sit with Mr. Commissioner, just to be recognized as the best reliever in the game. I mean, I've just got to thank all the relievers in the game, Craig Kimbrel, all those great closers, by pushing me, just watching how they go about their business and be great. You want to be one of the greatest out there, too.
So it's awesome, man. It's a blessing day, just smiling, sitting with the two best. Watching these guys when I was young, playing in the backyard, imagined that you want to be in the Big Leagues, and now here I'm sitting here, and just be recognized by one of the best relievers, this is awesome.
CHRIS ROSE: We're going to open the floor to questions. Just state your name and where you're from. We understand we obviously had a lot of news in the baseball world today and we appreciate it. The Commissioner did have a press conference today, so if you keep it on point, it would help us out a bit.
Q. Kenley, both you and Craig Kimbrel made the playoffs this year. You're in the World Series. Can you talk about the correlation between a great closer and the team's success. And are you now finally glad you're not a catcher anymore?
KENLEY JANSEN: Well, to be honest, man, you know, I've just got to give a lot of credit to my teammates, bullpen. This award is just to me -- my bullpen guys deserve it, too, because we just have one of the best bullpens in the National League. And for us to just forget about those bad days sometimes that you have, and you move forward and have a short memory and continue to push, and here we are today in the World Series. So that kind of make us get here, if I feel like.
Q. Kenley, you were talking about short memories. Is putting Game 2 behind the same like any other regular season slip-up or because of the World Series is it any different?
KENLEY JANSEN: Well, you know, you've got to keep trusting in all your 25 guys out there. You can't let one bad day affect your season. You've got to see that you have an awesome season and the fact that how we get here and all that stuff. So you can't let just one game affect your series.
So you've just got to give credit to the hitters. They're going to get lucky once in a while. That's how you have to feel, that's what your confidence. And I feel like they got lucky that game. So now we've just got to put it back and be ready for today and hopefully we can tie the series up.
Q. Back in Chicago you were talking about wanting to meet Mariano and learn from him this offseason. What does it mean for you to be sitting there with him right now? And any update on those plans?
KENLEY JANSEN: It's just a dream come true. I grew up being a Braves fan, and watching in 1996 Mariano come, and he was the set-up man, and just crushing the Braves. And see him crushing you guys in 1998 (laughter), no offense.
TREVOR HOFFMAN: Don't clap (to Kenley's son).
KENLEY JANSEN: I have a lot of respect for both of them. Like I said, they're the two greatest. And just to meet Mariano. I mean, I have a pitch that Mike Borzello, used to be his bullpen coach, told me, he said, "You have one pitch just like Mo." And that's when I started to believe, and all right, how good can I be with this pitch? And I started to manipulate it a little bit and get better, and one day I'm like, you know, I want to meet Mo just to pick his brain, and see how he goes about the hitters and all that stuff and just life. I know he's a Christian man and a family man. And I just want to get better on and off the field. And I heard a lot of good stuff about him, about both of them. So the thing is that I have just a similar pitch that he has, and why not? I want to continue to be the best in this game and try to help my team win.
CHRIS ROSE: You guys want to exchange cell phones?
CHRIS ROSE: Actually I'll ask the last question: Are you and your wife available to teach parenting classes? Because that's the best kid I've ever seen in my life.
KENLEY JANSEN: He's awesome.
CHRIS ROSE: Good job. Kenley, congratulations. And Craig Kimbrel, if you get a chance to see this, congratulation. We have a quick photo op, I believe. Thank you very much, everybody. Enjoy Game 4 of the World Series tonight.