Díaz racked up strikeouts at a record rate. Clase pounded the strike zone to get quick outs. But one thing they had in common -- other than routinely hitting triple digits on the radar gun -- was their late-game dominance.
Major League Baseball’s highest relief honors were bestowed upon Díaz and Clase on Tuesday. Díaz is the 2022 recipient of the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award, and Clase is the winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.
Díaz, who won the AL version of the award in 2018 with the Mariners, joins Craig Kimbrel as the only players to win the Reliever of the Year Award in each league. The awards have been presented since 2014, when they replaced MLB’s “Delivery Man of the Year Award,” which had been presented to one winner across MLB from 2005-13.
Clase, meanwhile, is a first-time recipient, though it’s hardly the first honor he’s received this season. The 24-year-old righty was named an All-Star for the first time earlier this year, and it was announced on Monday that he was one of two relievers -- along with Díaz -- voted to the All-MLB First Team.
Clase posted a 1.36 ERA this season and led the Majors with 42 saves. His 77 appearances were tied with Toronto’s Adam Cimber for the most by any player, while Clase’s 67 finished games were 13 more than any other pitcher.
That 2022 dominance continued a torrid two-year stretch in which Clase has put up a 1.33 ERA over 148 outings dating to the start of the '21 season.
While Clase racked up a respectable 77 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings, that was nothing compared to Díaz averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning.
Díaz tallied a ridiculous 118 K’s over just 62 innings for the Mets, resulting in an average of 17.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
That’s the highest single-season rate by any pitcher in MLB history with at least 60 innings pitched.