Greg Holland of the American League Champion Kansas City Royals is the inaugural "Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year" and Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves is the first "Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year," Major League Baseball announced today. Both Holland and Kimbrel participated in a press conference at Kauffman Stadium prior to tonight's Game Two of the 2014 World Series.
In 65 games this season, Holland fashioned a 1.44 ERA and posted 46 saves in 48 opportunities in helping the Royals reach the Postseason for the first time since 1985. In 62.1 innings, the two-time AL All-Star struck out 90 batters while surrendering just 37 hits and 20 walks. In the Postseason, Holland has saved six games during the Club's eight-game winning streak to the AL pennant. After a franchise-record 47 saves in 2013 and 46 this year, the 28-year-old Holland now owns the two best single-season save totals in Club history. The North Carolina native's 93 saves over the two-year period were the best total among all AL relievers and second in all of MLB to Kimbrel's 94.
Kimbrel, 26, assembled a 1.61 ERA and fanned 95 batters in 61.2 innings this year, earning an NL-high 47 saves in 51 opportunities. The four-time NL All-Star allowed just 30 hits, 26 walks and two home runs this season and stranded 12 of his 14 inherited runners. The Alabama native is the first pitcher in Major League history to begin his career with four consecutive 40-save seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Braves' all-time saves leader is just the third pitcher to register 40 or more saves in each of four consecutive seasons, joining Hoffman (1998-2001, 2004-2007) and Francisco Rodriguez (2005-2008). Kimbrel's strikeout percentage of 42 percent ranks as the highest in Major League history for pitchers with at least 150 saves.
The AL relievers who were the runners-up are Dellin Betances (5-0, 1.40 ERA, 90.0 IP, 135 SO) of the New York Yankees and Zach Britton (3-2, 1.65 ERA, 37 saves, 76.1 IP, 46 H) of the Baltimore Orioles.
The NL relievers who were the runners-up are Aroldis Chapman (2.00 ERA, 36 saves, 54.0 IP, 21 H, 106 SO) of the Cincinnati Reds and Kenley Jansen (2.76 ERA, 44 saves, 65.1 IP, 19 BB, 101 SO) of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Balloting was conducted among a panel of nine all-time great relievers in order to determine the first recipients of the revamped awards, which were announced on April 9th. Rivera and Hoffman, both of whom spent their entire careers in the same League en route to the top of the all-time saves list, were joined as voters by 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, John Franco and Billy Wagner. The nine voters ranked the top three AL relief pitchers and the top three NL relief pitchers based solely on regular season performance, using a 5-3-1 weighted point system.
The new Awards replace MLB's "Delivery Man of the Year Award," which was presented to one winner in all of Major League Baseball from 2005-2013, and continue a longstanding baseball tradition of honoring the game's top relief pitchers.
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