MLB announces Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award

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(Elsa/Getty Images)
(Elsa/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Major League Baseball announced a new award that will honor the best relief pitcher in each league, replacing the Delivery Man of the Year award. Yes, that existed. The AL version of the new award will be called the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award. The NL version has been named after Trevor Hoffman. Both players spent their entire careers in their respective leagues.

“Both Mariano and Trevor represented our sport magnificently on and off the mound and earned the universal respect of our fans in their legendary careers,” said commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. “I believe it is appropriate to redefine an existing award in honor of their contributions to Baseball, and I am delighted that many of the most decorated relievers in history will select the winners.”

From the press release, here are the nuts and bolts of how the new awards will work:

A panel of nine of the greatest relief pitchers in history will vote on the recipients of the new awards. In addition to Rivera and Hoffman, other voters will include the four living Hall of Fame relief pitchers – Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Rich “Goose” Gossage and Bruce Sutter – and the three relievers who round out the top five in career saves – Lee Smith (478 saves), John Franco (424 saves) and Billy Wagner (422 saves).

The nine voters will rank the top three A.L. relief pitchers and the top three N.L. relief pitchers, based solely on regular season performance. Using a 5-3-1 weighted point system (i.e., five points for a first-place vote; three points for a second-place vote; and one point for a third-place vote), the Award in each League will be given to the relief pitcher who accrues the most total points.

Based on the voting panel, something tells me the new awards will go to whoever leads the league in saves. Or maybe the guy who finishes second if he has a really low ERA. I’m not expecting a whole lot of objectivity out of that group. Whatever.

Rivera, as you know, retired after last season and was the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the universe. Hoffman was very good himself, but Rivera was on another level. For example, Rivera allowed 38 fewer runs than Hoffman despite throwing 194.1 more innings, and that doesn’t consider ballparks and divisions and all that. Let’s not even bring up the postseason.

Anyway, awards are fun and I’m glad Mo has one named after him. He certainly deserves it not only because of the career he had, but because of the person he was and how he represented both the Yankees and MLB. I wonder who will be the first Yankees reliever to win the award? David Robertson is as good a guess as anyone, but who knows with this stuff. It’ll be cool when it happens though. Congrats to Rivera for having the award named after him.

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  • ropeadope

    I though Franco wasn’t registered to vote.

  • Little Dill

    Is it just me or does naming the NL Award after Trevor Hoffman take something away from the honor? Trevor Hoffman blew every big game I ever saw him pitch.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Not in the least. I kind of like it.

    • ALZ

      Hoffman is #2 in career saves, and we all know that MLB thinks that stat is important. It just honors 2 great players. Hoffman doesn’t touch Mariano, but he still had a really good career.

  • TWTR

    Next up, the Jeterian Clutchitude Award.

    • Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

      The winner gets a new kitchen but one without any range?

      • Luisergi

        Gets a big gift basket.

    • gageagainstthemachine

      Bronzed gift baskets for everyone!!

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    Will Rolaids still be sponsoring the award? I don’t think Trevor Hoffman is in the same league as Mariano. Mo meant more to his ballclub than any other player over the last 2 decades, period. They should retire 42 again in honor of Mariano. They should rename the new Yankee Stadium the House that Mo built.

    • RetroRob

      The Rolaids Relief Award was never handed out for 2013. Apparently, Rolaids was purchased by another company and they didn’t sponsor the award, so it was never given out. Kind of weird. Basically confirms it really wasn’t an award, but a marketing gimmick for Rolaids.

    • ALZ

      “the House that Mo built”

  • jim p

    A century after Cy Young retired, we’re still remembering him from the Award name. I bet, providing we don’t exterminate ourselves as a species, Marino will be remembered generations from now.

  • RetroRob

    Odd award in that only players determine it, but also only closers. Not expecting much deep thinking from that group.

    • nyyankfan_7

      Come on – when you think of John Rocker or Rob Dibble could you really picture them wearing a leopard skin loin cloth and carrying a club and being amazed by fire……oh wait maybe you’re right.

    • KeithK

      Does the closer position really deserve all that much deep thinking? Every objective study I’ve ever seen shows that the closer position is just not as important as it’s made out to be. An average reliever will succeed in the great majority of save situations, especially the 3 run lead type.

      I’m also not sure that this crop of voters will stick with the simple “most saves” rule. Gossage has been pretty dismissive of the one inning role, compared to the fireman of his day (multiple innings, comes in with runners on, etc.) Then again, they may treat this as a ceremonial thing. I dunno.

      • RetroRob

        I want deep thinking. Deep.

  • nyyankfan_7

    “An average reliever will succeed in the great majority of save situations, especially the 3 run lead type”

    I call bullshit.

    Jim Johnson has single-handedly ruined my fantasy baseball season already this year by proving your theory incorrect.

    • Yangeddard Solarte

      Yeah, if it was so easy there’d be 20 Marianos currently in the MLB and there hasn’t been another one like him. In 2032 if Dave Robertson is as dominant as Mariano was for 18 years then I’ll admit that Marianos are dime a dozen. An average reliever will not succeed like Mariano did. No way no how.

      • ALZ

        Mariano was so great because he was dominant for almost 20 years, not because of the saves.

    • RetroRob

      Jim Johnson seems to be the last winner of the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, although he’ll never receive his award. A bit of irony in that Rolaids was owned by Johnson & Johnson, but Johnson never got his award.

      They really should keep the fireman’s hat for the award and according to this article by Rob Neyer, the players wanted their fireman’s hat award!

      More importantly, who now is the closer in Oakland? Fantasy baseball players need to know!

    • lightSABR

      The chance that a run will score in any given inning is only about 30%, so an average pitcher would convert 70% of 1-run saves and a substantially higher percentage of 2- and 3-run saves.

      Having a closer who can lock things down is awfully nice, but yeah, an average pitcher will still succeed most of the time. You’ve only got to get three outs.

      • Deathstroke Heathcott

        The 10-20 percent difference from a good closer and average pitcher is huge though. Kinda like how a great hitter will only really hit .050 better than an average one. That difference is all it takes.

        • KeithK

          My point is that difference between a great closer and an average closer is, on average, only a couple of games per season. It’s much less than people think.

          The reason Rivera was so great is that he was a great reliever every season. He wasn’t volatile like most relievers. Over all that time the small difference adds up.

  • Kiko Jones

    I wonder who will be the first Yankees reliever to win the award? David Robertson is as good a guess as anyone, but who knows [with his] stuff.

    Seems like a gratuitous whack at D-Rob…

    • Tom

      I think this was a writing issue and he was saying “who knows [with this] stuff” (meaning who knows given the folks who are voting on the award)

    • ALZ

      Is that you can never predict this stuff. Ortiz, Beltran, Sheffield, Delgado, McGwire, Biggio, Piazza, etc. all never won an MVP, but have had great careers. There has been many years Mariano wouldn’t have won this award, because he wasn’t best in the league. He is a HOFer because he has been a strong player 20 years.

  • vicki

    goose will never vote for a sox pitcher.

  • LK

    Pretty neat for Mo.

    Does anyone else feel like having this panel of 9 former players vote on this is just a disaster waiting to happen? What happens if one of them dies – do they go with an 8-man group or add somebody else? If a reliever passes Wagner in saves does he automatically join the panel? Isn’t it a little bit of a conflict of interest to have Mo voting on an award that his former teammates are eligible for? Don’t get me wrong, the end results probably won’t be shittier than any other award they hand out, but this feels like a system that Bud thought up five minutes before the announcement.

    • RetroRob

      I think having just relievers vote on this is stupid.

      Perhaps there is some built in expiration on these guys voting, beyond the expiration of, well, living! Beyond that, do they want a bunch of eventual 70- 80- and 90 year-olds (Goose plans to live that long) determining this? I suspect there may be a transition to another voting group in the future, although I have no idea why I have that faith.

  • lightSABR

    Splitting the award name like that seems fair to me. The American League is a better league, so its best reliever gets a better award. ;)

    • Deathstroke Heathcott

      The whole thing should’ve been named after Mo. Like the AL Cy Young and NL Cy Young.

      • Pinedamaybegreata(formerlyMonterowasdinero)

        The Al and NL Rilievera award.

        Loses something when written but sounds good.

      • ALZ

        i like the splitting. Rivera was better, but doesn’t mean Hoffman didn’t have a great career.

  • awy

    re: closer value, you guys realize mo is like, really fucking high ranked in terms of win probability added.

    a pitcher with a true talent 1.50 era that can be utilized however you see fit should have value appropriately assigned to the highest leverage innings. if your manager uses him incorrectly, e.g. only in save situations, that’s not the fault of the pitcher. that’s the manager costing the team wins. the pitcher himself is theoretically gonna produce a ton of value as a piece of baseball weaponry.