Below is the Oakland Athletics BBA Chapter’s ballot for the Goose Gossage Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League. None of the places were unanimous. Applying the BBA point system, here are the Chapter’s picks:
1st Place: Jose Valverde, RHP, (closer) Detroit Tigers. Valverde converted 49 saves in 2011, but finished with a record of 2-4. He had 8.6 strikouts/9 innings (SO/9) and a 2.03 strikeout to walk ratio. As were each of the others in this list, he was an All Star this season. He posted a 2.24 ERA and struck out 69 in 72.1 innings.
2nd Place: David Robertson, RHP, (set-up man) New York Yankees. Robinson usurped the role of set-up man from Rafael Soriano early in 2011 and thrived in that role. He allowed only 8 earned runs, and stuck out 100 batters in 66.2 innings, for a 1.08 ERA and compiled a 13.5 SO/9. He only surrendered 1 home run all season. He was my first place choice.
3rd Place: Mariano Rivera, RHP, (closer) New York Yankees. Rivera has long been considered the best reliever in baseball, certainly the best closer. But he is 41 years old and had fewer saves and a lower SO/9 than our 1st place winner did. He walked only 8 batters and posted a 1.91 ERA, while converting 44 of 49 save opportunities.
Up next: The Walter Johnson Award for the top starting pitcher.