Edwin Díaz of the Seattle Mariners has earned the 2018 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award, while Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers is the recipient of the 2018 Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award, Major League Baseball and presenting sponsor The Hartford announced Saturday. The announcement was made at a press conference before Game 4 of the World Series, which was attended by Díaz and Hader, as well as Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Hall of Famer Hoffman, Rivera and Doug Elliot, president of The Hartford.
In his third year in the Major Leagues, Díaz fashioned a 1.96 ERA and led the Major Leagues with 57 saves and 65 games finished. His save total was tied for the second-highest in history, alongside Bobby Thigpen of the 1990 Chicago White Sox and trailing only record holder Francisco Rodriguez (62 saves) of the Los Angeles Angels in 2008. Díaz, a first-time All-Star in 2018, struck out 124 batters in 73.1 innings pitched, limiting opponents to 41 hits and 17 walks (0.79 WHIP). In large part due to their right-hander, the Mariners posted a 36-21 record in one-run games, leading the Majors in such wins, and a perfect 77-0 mark when leading after eight innings. The Puerto Rico native became the 14th pitcher in Major League history (recorded 17 times) to collect 50 or more saves in a season, and at 24, he was the youngest ever to reach that milestone. He was also the AL's winning pitcher in the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington, DC.
In his second Major League season, Hader led all Major League relievers with 143 strikeouts - the most in history by a left-handed reliever and tied for eighth all-time by all relievers - in just 81.1 innings pitched (36 H, 30 BB, 0.81 WHIP). He averaged 15.82 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. The Maryland native posted a 6-1 record, a 2.43 ERA and 12 saves in his 55 games. He held opposing batters to a .132 batting average (36-for-272). The 143 strikeouts by the first-time All-Star in 2018 set a club record for a reliever. He made 23 appearances of at least two innings, with the Brewers going 23-0 in those games. Only six of the 23 runners he inherited upon entering games scored. Hader played a key role in Milwaukee's first National League Central title since 2011 and the Club's exciting run through Game Seven of the NLCS, including their Division Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies. He was acquired by Milwaukee as a part of the July 2015 trade that sent Mike Fiers and Carlos Gómez to the Houston Astros.
Balloting for the Rivera and Hoffman Awards, which debuted in the 2014 season, was conducted among a panel of seven all-time great relievers in order to determine the recipients. Rivera and Hoffman, both of whom spent their entire careers in the same League en route to the top of the all-time saves list, were joined as voters by two Hall of Fame relief pitchers - Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers - as well as John Franco, Lee Smith and Billy Wagner. The seven voters ranked the top three AL relief pitchers and the top three NL relief pitchers based solely on regular season performance, using a 5-3-1 weighted point system.
The AL relievers who were the runners-up are All-Stars Blake Treinen (9-2, 0.78 ERA, 38 saves, 80.1 IP, 46 H, 21 BB, 100 SO) of the Oakland Athletics and a previous two-time recipient, Craig Kimbrel (5-1, 2.74 ERA, 42 saves, 62.1 IP, 31 H, 31 BB, 96 SO) of the Boston Red Sox. The NL relievers who were the runners-up are a previous two-time recipient, All-Star Kenley Jansen (3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 71.2 IP, 54 H, 17 BB, 82 SO) of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Wade Davis (4.13 ERA, NL-high 43 saves, 65.1 IP, 43 H, 26 BB, 78 SO) of the Colorado Rockies.
The Rivera and Hoffman Awards replaced MLB's "Delivery Man of the Year Award," which was presented to one winner in all of Major League Baseball from 2005-2013, and have continued a longstanding baseball tradition of honoring the game's top relief pitchers. The previous winners have been:
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