The NL/AL Goose Gossage Relief Pitchers of the Year

Posted: November 6, 2013 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Arizona Diamondbacks v Boston Red Sox

The first 162 (and even 163) have come and gone, the playoffs have had their day and the Red Sox have the year’s title in hand (and beard). Now is the part of the year where time both looks forward, with free agency, but backwards as well, as it is time to honor the very best of the best from the year that was.

For the third year here in the CHEAP SEATS, the wrap on the baseball books for the year will be done via my vote for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards, which serves as the collective vote for the network of independent sites which chronicle the game throughout the year. Each is named after a past performer that has embodied the best of what he does, and the CSP submissions will start, at the end, by rewarding the best relief pitchers in each league.

2013 American League Goose Gossage Reliever of the Year—KOJI UEHARA, Boston Red Sox

For many, the spotlight was shined on Koji Uehara only this October, when he took the act his act to the highest stage in the postseason. But for anybody that’s followed the Red Sox across the course of the season, this was probably when Uehara was at his most mortal throughout the year, mostly because he actually gave up hits by then.

In a season that saw him be a jack of all trades in the Red Sox pen, starting has a bridge reliever in the seventh inning, to not only being passed over for the closer role three, but four times. Yet eventually, John Farrell realized there was no other place for the type of dominance his veteran righty was displaying to be place. Armed with only two pitches, a splitter, which he occasionally offset with a fastball that realistically sat in the high 80’s, but looked like it was topping 100 when following said splitter, he mowed through the Majors this season. Batters managed only a .130 average against him this season, has he surrendered only 33 hits across 74.1 innings.

A further look inside of that stinginess makes an even greater point: Uehara was the toughest reliever to reach base against in baseball history this season. Let that sink in for a second, and now let’s continue. In between those scattered hits, he struck out 101 batters, while walking only nine, which equates to an insane 0.57 WHIP, the lowest such number in baseball history. He fell behind in the count only 11 times the entire season, threw a de facto Perfect Game (plus some) by retiring 34 consecutive batters from August 21 to September 17th. He also authored 29 consecutive scoreless innings, ran up 21 saves and 13 holds along the way. In a game that his obsessed with power stamps being put on the end of games, Uehara redefined how dominance can be finessed as well, and with more effectiveness than ever seen before.

The Rest:

2. Greg Holland—Royals: 47 saves/3 BSV, .170 average against, 103 strikeouts, 1.21 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

3.  Joe Nathan—Rangers: 43 Saves/3 BSV, .162 average against, 73 strikeouts, 1.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

4. Mariano Rivera—Yankees: 44 saves/7 BSV, .236 average against, 54 strikeouts, 2.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

5. Grant Balfour—Athletics: 38 saves/3 BSV, .206 average against, 72 strikeouts, 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP


2013 National League Goose Gossage Reliever of the Year—CRAIG KIMBREL, Atlanta Braves

It is nearly to the point where this award could be named after Kimbrel, which is insane considering he’s only 25 years old. But in a game that routinely has many open ended, debatable questions, there is one that is not open for discussion: Craig Kimbrel is the best closer in the game. Open and shut case, much like the games he has an impact on.

No player has started his career on a door-slamming warpath such as Kimbrel is on; three years into his career, three times leading the NL in saves. He set a new career high with 50 in 2013, and has closed out 139 already in his career. For the second consecutive year, he allowed less than 10 earned runs and finished with a sub-1.25 ERA on a .166 average against. In the course of closing out 60 games for the second time, and showing a brilliant amount of control for the power approach he takes. While running batters off with his mixture of triple digit fastballs and virtually unhittable slider, he walked only 20 batters and surrendered 39 hits.

It could be argued that despite his eye-popping numbers that 2013 was his “worst” year statistically (which is relative to only the standard he’s set for himself). However, there was has been no season where he meant more to the Braves than this one. After injuries ravished the Atlanta pitching staff, his presence kept the boat steady for the club, by being the rock at the end of the game. He stopped any bleeding that might have reached them, and continued to be a human eight inning game creator. There aren’t many certainties in this game, but more often than not (precisely 139 times out of 154), games that meet Kimbrel meet their end soon after.

The Rest:

2. Kenley Jansen—Dodgers: 28 saves/4 BSV, 16 holds, .177 average against, 111 strikeouts, 1.88 ERA, 0.86 WHIP

3. Aroldis Chapman—Reds: 38 saves/5 BSV, .164 average against, 112 strikeouts, 2.54 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

4. Steve Cishek—Marlins: 34 saves/2 BSV, .211 average against, 74 strikeouts, 2.33 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

5. Sergio Romo—Giants: 38 saves/5 BSV, .226 Average against, 58 strikeouts, 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

This is just the beginning of the awards run in at CSP. Here is the slate of my upcoming 2013 accolaides, as I wrap the year that was, before looking ahead at what’s to come this winter:

Thursday: NL/AL Willie Mays Rookie of the Year

Saturday: NL/AL Connie Mack Manager of the Year

Friday: AL Walter Johnson Pitcher of the Year Award

Monday: NL Walter Johnson Pitcher of the Year Award

Tuesday: AL Stan Musial Most Valuable Player Award

Wednesday: NL Stan Musial Most Valuable Player Award

  1. […] Uehara and Kimbrel In Class of their Own – Cheap.Seats.Please […]

  2. […] 6: NL/AL Goose Gossage Relief Pitcher of the Year—Koji Uehara and Craig […]

  3. […] 6: NL/AL Goose Gossage Relief Pitcher of the Year—Koji Uehara and Craig […]

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