Nine stellar arms up for Setup Man GIBBY
Candidates provide their clubs with sturdy bridges to the ninth inning
Starting pitchers sign for the most money and closers get the glory of procuring the final out. But getting your team to the ninth inning with a lead is sometimes just as tough.
The nine relievers nominated for MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Setup Man prove that eighth-inning guys can be just as valuable as their ninth-inning brethren.
Yankees right-hander Dellin Betances impressed in his first full Major League season, leading American League relievers with a .149 average against while posting the second-lowest ERA (1.40). He also set the Major League record for most strikeouts by a rookie (135) with 115 innings or fewer pitched.
Nationals veteran Tyler Clippard led the Majors with 40 holds -- tossing scoreless appearances in all but one of those outings -- while fanning 10.5 batters per nine innings for the season.
Kansas City's Wade Davis was the middle man in the Royals' vaunted late-inning trio, leading all relievers with a 1.00 ERA -- the eighth-best mark all-time for an American League reliever. He also led AL relievers with 33 holds.
Left-hander Andrew Miller was dominant for the Red Sox and the Orioles this season, fanning 103 batters with a .456 opponents' OPS. He also posted a 2.02 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.
Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek led all National League relievers with a 7.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while posting a 1.87 ERA and 0.79 WHIP.
Baltimore's Darren O'Day ranked seventh among AL relievers with a 1.70 ERA, while also striking out more than a batter per inning (9.6 strikeouts per nine innings).
Right-hander Joe Smith did his usual thing in his first year with the Angels, setting or tying career highs in wins (seven), innings (74 2/3) and strikeouts (68). He also posted a career-low 1.81 ERA, while making an AL-high 67 scoreless appearances.
Nationals reliever Drew Storen led all NL bullpen arms with a 1.12 ERA and finished as baseball's only pitcher with at least 10 saves and 20 holds.
Pittsburgh's Tony Watson led all relievers with 10 wins, while posting a 1.63 ERA -- the second-lowest among lefty relievers. He also recorded the second-most holds (34).
Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2014 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 23 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best Starting Pitcher, Hitter, Closer, Setup Man, Rookie, Breakout Hitter, Breakout Pitcher, Bounceback Player, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive and Postseason Performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top Play, Outfield Throw, Storyline, Hitting Performance, Pitching Performance, Oddity, Walk-Off, Cut4 Topic, Regular-Season Moment and Postseason Moment, with video available via MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
Over the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories -- none of which are restricted to individual league affiliation. That's how you know the GIBBYs consider the best of the best.
All 30 clubs are represented among the award candidates. In fact, every team will have multiple nominees to begin voting -- a testament to the parity of talent around the game.
Several categories -- Play, Oddity, Walk-Off and Cut4 Topic -- will each open balloting with at least one nominee per club. After a week, the four lists will be pared to 10 finalists per group by an expert panel.
Fans can vote as many times as they want through Nov. 21 at 11:59 p.m. ET by visiting mlb.com/gibbys, and winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Dec. 6.