Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman redefined the ways a dominant reliever could impact a game, ushering in a new era of how managers perceived the utility of their bullpens. This fall, baseball will recognize the relievers who are following in those superstars' footsteps.The Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the
Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman redefined the ways a dominant reliever could impact a game, ushering in a new era of how managers perceived the utility of their bullpens. This fall, baseball will recognize the relievers who are following in those superstars' footsteps.
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 handed out before Game 4 of the World Series. Both legendary closers are expected to be on hand for the ceremony.
Balloting was conducted among a panel of eight all-time great relievers in order to determine the recipients of the Rivera (AL) and Hoffman (NL) Awards.
Rivera and Hoffman, who spent their entire careers in one league en route to the top of the respective all-time saves lists, were joined as voters by the three relievers who rounded out the top five in career saves entering 2016 -- Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner -- as well as Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter. The eight voters ranked the top three AL relief pitchers based solely on regular-season performance, using a 5-3-1 weighted point system.
The Rivera and Hoffman Awards debuted in 2014, replacing MLB's Delivery Man of the Year Award -- which was presented to one winner in all of baseball from 2005-13. Greg Holland of the AL and Craig Kimbrel of the NL took home inaugural honors, followed in '15 by the AL's Andrew Miller and the NL's Mark Melancon.
So who will the AL's winner be in 2016? Here is a look at nine relievers who figure to get heavy consideration:
Cody Allen: Cleveland's closer struck out 33 percent of the batters he faced, good for seventh best among AL relievers, and limited right-handed hitters to a .139 average in 2016. He also recorded the seventh most saves (32) in the AL.
Dellin Betances: New York's emerging closer continued his run of dominance in 2016, recording the best K/9 rate (15.53) of any big league reliever. That mark also ranks as the seventh best single-season rate in history (minimum 50 innings).
Zach Britton: All Britton did was record history's lowest ERA (0.54) among anyone who's thrown at least 65 innings in a season. The Orioles left-hander also paced the AL with a career-high 47 saves and 63 games finished, allowing only four earned runs and one home run all year.
Alex Colomé: The Tampa Bay closer converted 37 of 40 save opportunities in 2016 for a 92.5 save percentage, which ranked third among AL hurlers with at least 30 saves. His stellar 1.91 ERA also put him in exclusive company, as he joined Fernando Rodney (2012) and Rafael Soriano ('10) as the only pitchers in Rays history to finish a season with 35 or more saves and a sub-2.00 ERA.
Wade Davis: Though his season was abbreviated, Davis posted a sub-2.00 ERA for the third consecutive season while earning his second straight All-Star Game selection. The Royal's 2.29 fielding-independent pitching (FIP) mark ranked sixth among AL relievers in 2016.
Sam Dyson: In his first full season in the closer's role for Texas, Dyson recorded 38 saves to rank third in the AL. His 73 appearances tied for second in the league, and he led the Majors with 10 saves during the month of June.
Miller: Miller's 13.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the best of any AL pitcher in 2016 and ranks as the fifth best single-season rate in modern baseball history among hurlers who tossed at least 50 innings. The left-hander allowed runs in only 12 of his 70 outings during a season spent between the Yankees and Indians.
Roberto Osuna: In just his second Major League season, Osuna placed in the top 10 among AL relievers in saves (sixth with 36), WHIP (seventh with 0.93) and walks per nine innings (eighth with 1.70). Toronto's young closer limited opposing right-handed batters to a .176 average -- the seventh lowest of any qualified reliever in baseball.
Francisco Rodríguez: In his first season in Detroit, Rodriguez finished second in the AL with 44 saves in 2016 -- the sixth time he's recorded 40 or more saves in a season -- and moved into fourth place on the all-time list with 430 saves. Rodriguez also became just the 25th player to appear in 900 or more games in his career
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.