Ah, the good old reliever of the year ballot. The BBA has to remind me every year this is NOT for best mustache. Oh, and saves are a stupid, stupid stat. Let's roll...
1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
Not much to this one. Kimbrel led all relievers with a 3.2 fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) and was my choice for the BBA Willie Mays award for rookie of the year, which he won. Over 77.0 innnings, Kimbrel tossed a 2.10/1.52/1.94 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) pitching line with a staggering 14.84 K/9. And sure, he recorded 46 saves if you're the type of person who cares about that stuff. But if you like saves, you probably don't know how to text message and aren't reading this.
2. Jonny Venters, Atlanta
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez rode Venters into the ground in 2011. That's actually true of Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty too and contributed to the Braves collapse down the stretch. Venters appeared in 85 games and pitched 88.0 innings. He threw a 1.84/2.78/2.88 pitching line which was hurt when he ran out of gas. In 12.1 September innings, Venters gave up seven runs on 13 hits and 10 walks. It wasn't pretty. But he was so brilliant for the rest of the season, I have a hard time penalizing him for his manager's mismanagement.
3. John Axford, Milwaukee
His 1.95/2.41/2.85 pitching line and 10.51 K/9 and 46 saves are all pretty enough. And maybe I should have voted for him higher but not because of the numbers. It's because of this...
If the BBA would let me vote for mustaches for the Goose Gossage award like I wanted to, Axford would have run away with this thing.