While the NL Reliever of the Year award was a one man race, the top two competitors for FanSided’s top American League bullpen arm were neck and neck to the end. When all votes were counted, Tigers closer Jose Valverde barely edged out all-time great Mariano Rivera as FanSided’s AL Reliever of the Year.
In 2011, Valverde offered up his share of close calls, and the right-hander continued this trend into the playoffs. Even so, Valverde never failed to complete a save.
A perfect 49 for 49, Valverde was solid in his role as Detroit’s finisher. He averaged less than a strikeout per inning and surrendered his fair share of free passes, but nonetheless, Valverde got the job done. The 33-year-old finished the season with a 2.24 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19.
Finishing in a close second, Rivera’s dominant career carried over into another successful season. Mo cemented his status as the best closer in baseball history, passing Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list.
Rivera didn’t limp toward the milestone like others have, he charged forward, looking as though he could close out games for another decade. Rivera maintained a season ERA south of 2.00 for the 4th consecutive year, finishing 2011 with an earned run average of 1.91 to go with his 0.90 WHIP.
Behind the frontrunners, Rivera’s teammate David Robertson’s impressive 2011 campaign earned him a third place finish. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and young Royals left-hander Greg Holland also received a fair share of the nominations.
Here’s a complete list of AL relievers receiving votes and their totals.
The way the voting is tallied is as follows: first place votes – 5 points, second place votes – 3 points, third place votes – 1 point.
1. Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers (96)
2. Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees (83)
3. David Robertson – New York Yankees (48)
4. Jonathan Papelbon – Boston Red Sox (29)
5. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals (18)
6. Joe Smith – Cleveland Indians (6)
7. Koji Uehara – Texas Rangers (4)
8. Alfredo Aceves – Boston Red Sox (3)
9. Brandon League – Seattle Mariners (3)
10. Jim Johnson – Baltimore Orioles (2)
11. Al Alburquerque – Detroit Tigers (1)
12. Daniel Bard – Boston Red Sox (1)
13. Scott Downs – LA Angels (1)
14. Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers (1)
15. Vinnie Pestano – Cleveland Indians (1)
Other end of the year voting: