Allen in mix for top AL Reliever Award
The last pitch of the Indians' 2015 season was an 86-mph knuckle curve that Mookie Betts grounded to second on Oct. 4 at Progressive Field. It finished off a perfect 1-2-3 ninth for Cody Allen, leaving him with a final tally of 34 saves.
And who knows, maybe some important hardware.
The Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award presented by The Hartford will be presented on Oct. 28, before Game 2 of the 111th World Series.
While there are no official "nominees" for these awards, likely candidates could include Allen, along with Wade Davis of the Royals, Andrew Miller of the Yankees, Zach Britton of the Orioles in the AL, and Mark Melancon of the Pirates, Jeurys Familia of the Mets, Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals in the NL.
The awards are voted on by a nine-member panel comprised of Rivera and Hoffman, as well as fellow legendary closers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner. The group represents the four living relief pitchers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is inclusive of the top six all-time saves leaders.
As part of the balloting process, all nine voters will pick three relievers from each league based solely on regular-season performance. Selections are not restricted to closers. From there, a 5-3-1 weighted point system is used to determine the winners.
Allen, 26, led all Major League Baseball relievers in 2015 with a 2.6 WAR, ahead of 2.4 shared by Dellin Betances of the Yankees and Chapman , according to Fangraphs.com. Think back to Sept. 1, when Allen worked a four-out save in Toronto, striking out Josh Donaldson with two on and two out in the ninth for a sixth straight Indians win.
The young Cleveland right-hander proved he can be a top-tier closer, ranking third in the AL with a rate of 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings, and with a .346 strikeouts per batters faced. Allen had eight saves of more than one inning pitched, leading all closers. He gave up only one earned run over his final 19 games, spanning 20 1/3 innings.
"His strikeouts-to-nnings -- he's right there with all those [top relievers]," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Career-wise, his strikeouts-to-innings is silly. And he's still young. He's had probably four or five outings where it's been kind of tough, but other than that, man, he has been rock solid."
Allen said he is open to signing a multiyear contract extension with the Indians, allowing him to skip the arbitration process. In four years with Cleveland, he has compiled an ERA of 2.64 with a 11.5 K/9.
"We have a great staff here, a great group of guys, and the city of Cleveland has treated me very well," Allen said. "I would love to play here for a very, very long time. If that opportunity presents itself, I'd definitely be open to it."
The Hartford honors were first presented in 2014, to Greg Holland of Kansas City in the AL and Craig Kimbrel in the NL. This hardware replaced MLB's "Delivery Man of the Year Award," which was presented to one winner in all of MLB from '05-'13, and it continues a longstanding baseball tradition of recognizing the game's top relief pitchers.