New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has 41 saves.
Rivera is having another very good season in what will be the last hoorah for the most decorated closer of all-time. Consequently, he’s an obvious choice for what would be the sixth AL Relief Man of the Year Award of his illustrious career.
Slam-dunk winner, right?
I’m not so sure. What about Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara?
Who would you rather have, taking names out of the equation completely in a blind-resume format:
Player A: 55.1IP, 2.28ERA, 1.12WHIP, 50k
Player B: 64.1, 1.12ERA, 0.59WHIP, 89k
Better yet, is it even close?
Player A is Mariano Rivera, whose 41 saves rank 2nd in the AL.
Player B is Koji Uehara, whose 18 saves rank a distant 14th.
I guess those other numbers don’t matter with that big of a margin in saves. Stop the debate and hand Mo the award again because he’s got all those saves.
But are we really going to look at a fickle stat that allows relievers to make millions of dollars while handling the 6-7-8 hitters in the lineup in the 9th inning of a three-run game instead of the 3-4-5 hitters in the 8th inning of a one-run game? Is that really more important than pure numbers and overall value? Should that really determine who wins this award?
In the MVP and Cy Young voting, those awards can be determined by what each potential candidate did during his team’s stretch run. Why should the AL Relief Man of the Year Award be any different?
If that’s a determining factor, shouldn’t the winner be the pitcher who has been perfect in his last nine innings (Uehara) and not the guy who has blown four saves in the last month?
I’m not saying Uehara will win the award over Rivera. After all, Rivera has that “save” stat, history, name value, and the fact that it’s the final season of his Hall of Fame career on his side.
All I’m saying is that if you want to reward someone for being the best reliever in the American League in 2013, then Uehara should be the guy.