The 2021 IBWAA Awards (My Ballot): AL Reliever of the Year
It’s week two of my releasing my ballots for the various end-of-the-season awards across Major League Baseball. These are the same ballots/players that I submitted to the IBWAA before the postseason began.
This week we will go through all the American League Awards, starting with the Reliever of the Year.
For the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), voters get to vote for the Top-10 players for the MVP, the Top-5 pitchers for the Cy Young, the Top-3 players for the Rookie of the Year, Reliever of the Year, and the Top-3 managers for the Manager of the Year awards.
A common theme for me with relief pitchers is that I still value the save because I value what the save means in terms of how it works situationally. Being the “guy” that has to finish off a game that should be won (or at least held close for the offense to hopefully win) brings about a big challenge mentally, even if not facing the 2-3-4 hitters in the line-up during each appearance.
Name: Aroldis Chapman
Team: New York Yankees
Reliving Line: 61 G, 3.36 ERA (128 ERA+), 30 Saves (46 GF), 56.1 IP, 1.314 WHIP, 97 K’s
Yes, Aroldis Chapman was a nightmare closer this year after they banned the sticky-stuff. Yes, his ERA and WHIP are incredibly high for a reliever worthy of an honor at the end of the year. HOWEVER, Chapman had the 3rd most saves in the AL, the 5th most strikeouts, and the top K/9. In our current baseball era everybody likes to talk about how valuable the strikeout is, and Chapman was one of the best at getting the strikeout when it mattered. He also had a CYP score of 121.4 (10th across all AL pitchers) and only 4 blown saves (which was lower than I thought), and was less than my #2 and #1 guy.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Raisel Iglesias
Team: Los Angeles Angels
Reliving Line: 65 G, 2.57 ERA (174 ERA+), 34 Saves (59 GF), 70.0 IP, 0.929 WHIP, 103 K’s
Another former Reds closer, Iglesias had the 2nd most saves, the 14th best ERA, the 3rd most strikeouts, and the most amount of games finished (in the AL). On top of that he also had the 6th best fWAR while doing this all on a team that went 77-85. To collect a save in 44% of your teams wins it goes to show how much he was trusted to help them get a win when the Angels needed it. To put icing on the cake he scored a 144.5 on the CYP, which was 2nd among all AL pitchers. However, all that aside there was one reliever who clearly was the best in the AL.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Liam Hendriks
Team: Chicago White Sox
Reliving Line: 69 G, 2.54 ERA (171 ERA+), 38 Saves (58 GF), 71.0 IP, 0.732 WHIP, 113 K’s
Aroldis Chapman scored a CYP of 121.4 for 10th overall. Raisel Iglesias scored a 144.5 for 2nd overall. Liam Hendriks scored a 177.9 while (obviously) leading all AL pitchers. But, if that doesn’t satisfy for why he was my top reliever, he also had the 13th best ERA, the most saves, the most strikeouts, the best WHIP, and the best fWAR. He was the best reliever in the American League and it’s frankly not even close.
So, instead of harping more on his legitimacy for this spot, did you know that Hendriks is from Australia? He’s one of 33 players in MLB history from the “Land Down Under” and he holds their most All-Star Games, and has the 3rd highest career bWAR (+7.51) behind Dave Nilsson (+10.55) and Grant Balfour (+9.19).Embed from Getty Images