MLB Awards 2010: NL Relief Man of the Year Is San Francisco Giants' Brian Wilson

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIINovember 4, 2010

MLB Awards 2010: NL Relief Man of the Year Is San Francisco Giants' Brian Wilson

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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants pitchers against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Get
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Every year, managers, coaches and writers from around Major League Baseball award honors and trophies to the players—and every year, they screw up.

    So Bleacher Report's featured columnists decided to do it ourselves. Instead of just complaining about the awards as they were announced as we would normally do on our own, we teamed up to hold our own mock awards vote.

    This week, we looked at the Comeback Players of the Year in the AL and NL before naming the AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year. Today, we end Week 2 of our four-week series with the best relievers in the National League.

    The top five vote-getters are featured here with commentary from people who chose them. The full list of votes is at the end.

    So read on, see how we did and be sure to let us know what we got wrong!

No. 5: Francisco Cordero, Reds

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    CINCINNATI - AUGUST 29:  Francisco Cordero #48  of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Dennis Schlossman

    Although his statistics don’t quite add up to earn him the Rolaids Relief Man Award trophy, Francisco Cordero certainly deserves to be mentioned among the top relievers in the National League. 

    The three-time All-Star was the backbone of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen this year, and his 40 saves were bettered by only two closers—Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants and Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres.

    Cordero was one of only five closers who both earned 10 saves and eclipsed the 70-innings-pitched mark for the entire 2010 campaign.

    The 2010 season also marked the sixth time the 35-year-old righty saved more than 30 games in a season, and the third time he touched the 40-save mark in his career.

No. 4: Carlos Marmol, Cubs

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    ST. LOUIS - AUGUST 15: Relief pitcher Carlos Marmol #49 of the Chicago Cubs throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 15, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cubs beat the Cardinals 9-7.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Matt Trueblood

    Eric Gagne struck out 14.98 batters per nine innings in 2003, setting the all-time record for whiffs per nine frames. It was and is an extraordinary feat. 

    However, it’s no longer within even one strikeout per nine innings of the record, though, now that Marmol punched out 15.99 batters per nine in 2010.

    Marmol’s sweeping slider, delivered from his violent and wild stretch motion, is the least hittable pitch in baseball. He so dominates with it that, despite his horrendous command, he ranked second in FIP among big-league relievers this season. He also allowed just one home run in 77.2 innings.

    In those innings, though, Marmol punched out 138 batters—more strikeouts than 11 men who pitched at least 200 innings. For good measure, he saved 38 games in 43 tries.

No. 3: Billy Wagner, Braves

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 3:  Closer Billy Wagner #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after the last out in the the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Braves beat the Phillies 8-7.  (Photo by Mike
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Asher Chancey

    It was a hell of a year for Billy Wagner in his first season with the Atlanta Braves. 

    The best reliever in the National League in 2010 didn’t lead the league in saves, games finished, or appearances. He did, however, post the best ERA (1.43), ERA-plus (2.75) and WHIP (0.865) of any pitcher with 20 or more games finished in 2010.

    He also struck out a shocking 104 batters in 69.1 innings to go with only 22 walks. And his 38 hits allowed in those 69.1 innings pitched was bested only by Carlos Marmol.

    And oh by the way: he’s one of the only two left-handed closers in all of baseball.

No. 2: Heath Bell, Padres

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 01:  Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after they beat the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on October 1, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Jeremiah Graves

    Heath Bell had a breakout year in 2009 when he took over Trevor Hoffman’s closer role in San Diego. Bell was 31 years old, and most people thought he’d struggle in his conversion from middle relief to closer.

    He didn’t struggle a bit. Instead, the late-bloomer made his first All-Star team and led the NL in saves. He spent last offseason hearing his name brandied about in trade talks when—yet again—people doubted he’d be able to replicate his breakout season.

    Those naysayers were correct, he didn’t replicate his 2009 campaign…he bested it. He improved to go 6-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 86 strikeouts in 70 innings and converted 47 saves in 50 chances. He made his second All-Star team and—due, in large part, to his mid-90s fastball and killer curveball—he is poised for continued success.

No. 1: Brian Wilson, Giants

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 19:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning of Game Three of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 19, 2010 in San Francisco, Califo
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Evan Aczon

    Fear the Beard. Seriously.

    Brian Wilson is a guy who has the closer mentality, to say the least. This is a guy who has proclaimed that he can levitate, brought a BDSM mask to “Rome is Burning” and grew a gnarly beard and dyed it black. For fun.

    Okay, down to the nitty-gritty.

    Wilson’s 48 saves led baseball this year, and his 1.81 ERA was well lower than 2009, when it was 2.74. It’s somewhat scary to say that he’s only getting better. In 74.2 innings, his strikeouts went up (11.2 per 9 IP), his walks went down (3.1 per 9 IP) and he earned his second All-Star appearance in three seasons. He also led the league with ten saves of four outs or more, or “manly saves,” as dubbed by Giants announcer Mike Krukow.

    Wilson knows pressure, and he knows winning. He had a save percentage of 91 percent, with only five blown saves on the year. Lastly, Wilson has been known to make things interesting, allowing baserunners before shutting the door. But this year, his WHIP actually went down (to 1.179), and he led the majors in the most dramatic thing of all, game-ending strikeouts (29).

Full Results

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants listens to music during batting practice before Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    1. Brian Wilson, Giants—84

    2. Heath Bell, Padres—68

    3. Billy Wagner, Braves—45

    4. Carlos Marmol, Cubs—24

    5. Francisco Cordero, Reds—5

    T6. Mike Adams, Padres—1

    T6. John Axford, Brewers—1

    T6. Matt Belisle, Rockies—1

    T6. Luke Gregerson, Padres—1

    T6. Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers—1

    T6. Sean Marshall, Cubs—1

Schedule Of Results

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 2:  The Phillie Fanatic entertains the crowd along with firefighters during the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies game during a Opening Day game on April 2, 2007 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo b
    Rob Tringali/Getty Images
    AL Gold Gloves October 25
    NL Gold Gloves October 26
    AL Silver Sluggers October 27
    NL Silver Sluggers October 28
    AL Comeback Player of the Year November 1
    NL Comeback Player of the Year November 2
    AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year November 3
    NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year November 4
    AL Rookie of the Year November 8
    NL Rookie of the Year November 9
    AL Manager of the Year November 10
    NL Manager of the Year November 11
    AL Cy Young November 15
    NL Cy Young November 16
    AL Most Valuable Player November 17
    NL Most Valuable Player November 18