Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Next, up the Goose Gossage Award for this year's top reliever or, as I like to call it, the finding a reason to not give the best reliever of the year award to a closer award.
A few years ago, we had the year of the pitcher. Then we had another year of the pitcher, then another, and now another. I believe it is safe to assume that we are securely in the middle of the decade of the pitcher. Or at least the decade of the pitcher relative to the type of offense being displayed in this day in age compared to decades of the pitchers when offense was hard to come by and weak hitters like Maury Wills were championed as being offensive superstars. It doesn't make the position any less volatile due to injury (especially in the case of relievers), but with exceptional performances year-in and year-out from mound-dwelling sphere-hurlers, we should no longer be surprised by some of the gaudy numbers we see on a yearly basis from pitchers. Appreciative? Absolutely. Surprised? No.
1. Dellin Betances
Betnaces could conceivably be crowned the Goose Gossage award winner of the universe. But since that award doesn't exist yet, he's going to have to settle for being the AL winner. Betances made 70 appearances for the
2. Wade Davis
Three cheers for figuring it out! As good as Betances was this year, Davis was more dominant. He just did it less often. Damn you, bullpen roles, damn you. Davis set career best marks in ERA (1.00), FIP (1.19), xFIP (1.93), K/9 (13.63), BB/9 (2.88). WHIP (0.85) and fWAR (3.1). Basically, it was a career year for Wade Davis and I should have probably just linked his Fangraphs page here instead of listeing everything. Oh. He also didn't allow a single home run this year. Not one. So, there is that as well. The only thing that kept Davis from taking the top spot for me was that he was used far less than Betances, which we can blame on Ned Yost. And who doesn't want to blame things on Ned Yost?
3. Andrew Miller
Most ballots will probably list Greg Holland in this spot. And although Holland had an exceptional season, Miller simply outpitched him in my opinion. The both finished the season with an fWAR of 2.3, but Miller bested Holland in K/9, BB/9, FIP and xFIP. Holland had a better ERA and converted 46 saves to Miller's one. Miller also gets bonus points for safely escaping the sinking ship that was the Boston Red Sox and landing safely on the Baltimore Orioles.
[Ed. I wanted to make a case for Holland over Miller since the voting will indubitably back that up because saves. Miller was equally effective against lefties and righties. Not that I pegged him as a LOOGY but I wanted to check the splits anyway. Here's the definitive Off Base case for Holland over Miller. Holland had zero intentional walks to Miller's two. That makes sense since Holland was primarily brought in for save situations. And Holland hit zero batters compared to Miller's five. I'll lump the two together and pretend Holland just had way better command and control. Please ignore Holland had more unintentional walks (20) than Miller (17) in the exact same 62.1 innings. Pretty sure I won that round. -MTD]
LVR: Jim Johnson
Aaron Crow of the Royals had a worse fWAR (-0.9), but Jim Johnson was a tire fire on a humid August afternoon. after converting 101 saves over the last two seasons, 2014 saw him post an ERA of 7.09 across 53.1 innings. He might have been a little unlucky this year getting tagged with a .366 BABIP-against, but he wasn't that unlucky as his FIP was ghastly 5.08. His ERA- was 188, or, 88 percentage points worse than average. Fangraphs lists an awful ERA- as 125. So 188 would Put Johnson somewhere between unwatchable and an abortion.