Motor City Bengals is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Every year, the BBA and its member sites vote on a collection of post-season awards. This year, MCB has been selected to vote for the Goose Gossage Award, honoring the league’s top reliever.
I’ll list my selection in inverse order so as to better sell the drama.
3- Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Holland burst onto the scene in 2011, his first full year in the majors. In 60 innings of work out of Kansas City’s bullpen, Holland posted a 5-1 record and 1.80 ERA while also collecting four saves. For the season, Holland posted a WHIP of 0.933, allowing only 37 hits and 19 walks while striking out 74.
2- David Robertson, New York Yankees
Robertson turned in a season for the ages in 2011. The Yankees’ set-up specialist struck out an even 100 batters and did so in only 66.2 innings of work. He allowed only 40 hits, but walked 35 for a WHIP of 1.140. His 1.08 ERA was best among AL relievers with at least 30 innings pitched in 2011.
1- Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers
There is something to be said about doing your job well. Like it or not, the save exists and nobody in baseball was better at closing out a win than Valverde. The eccentric right hander went 49-for49 in save opportunities for the Tigers in 2011 and also lead the league in appearances with 75 and games finished with 70. While he wasn’t great in non-save situations, Valverde was nearly un-hittable when protecting a slim lead. In fact, in those 49 save chances, Valverde allowed a mere 26 hits and a total of three runs (0.55 ERA) while holding opponents to a .154 batting average.