Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel named 2017 AL Reliever of the Year
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Craig Kimbrel has been named as the 2017 Reliever of the Year for the American League.
Craig Kimbrel‘s first season with the Boston Red Sox was viewed by many as a mild disappointment but he’s back to being among the elite.
Kimbrel has been honored with the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year award.
He won the NL version of the award, named after Trevor Hoffman, in 2014 with the Atlanta Braves. Kimbrel is the only reliever to win the award in both leagues. In fairness, the award has only existed since 2014. Prior versions of the honor were named the Delivery Man Award and the Rolaids Relief Man Award.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
The Red Sox closer was third in the league in saves, converting 35 of 39 opportunities. Kimbrel’s sparkling 1.43 ERA and 0.68 WHIP were the best in the league among pitchers who threw at least 60 innings this season. His 16.43 K/9 led all major league pitchers and he was fourth with a 9.0 K/BB ratio.
The flame-throwing right-hander struck out nearly half the batters he faced this season. His staggering 49.6 K% was the second-highest strikeout rate ever (minimum 60 innings pitched). Whose record was Kimbrel chasing? His own, of course. He posted a record 50.2 K% in 2012.
The awards were handed out in a ceremony before Saturday’s Game 4 of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was there to accept his award for the NL. Rivera and Hoffman were both in attendance, joining commissioner Rob Manfred to present the awards. Not only are the awards named after them, the pair of former relievers who rank first and second on the all-time saves list are also part of the committee that votes on the award.
Kimbrel was at home with his wife awaiting the birth of their first child but expressed his appreciation through a recorded video message.
"“I want to thank everyone who was involved in voting for this, all the legends and Hall of Famers who made this happen,” Kimbrel said in the message, per ESPN. “Getting respect from ex-players who have done this means a lot to me.”"
Kimbrel and Jansen both broke into the majors eight years ago and have since established themselves as the most dominant relievers in the game. Since they debuted in 2010, Kimbrel’s 291 saves are the most in the majors and Jansen is second with 230.
Next: Red Sox have 4 Gold Glove finalists
Some of the season awards will come down to a tight race, but this wasn’t one of them. Kimbrel and Jansen were the obvious choices to win the Reliever of the Year award in their respective leagues.