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