The Rolaids Relief Awards were kinda cool, these big trophies with fireman helmets awarded typically to the best reliever in the game, typically a closer because saves, like wins, were overvalued. Lately though, thanks to advanced stats, we’re coming to realize that, like starters and wins, saves don’t always indicate which reliever is the best. So we’re considering all relievers here.
So, who wins in each league?
In the AL, while there are several outstanding candidates, in my opinion, this should go to a group of relievers on one team. This trio is a major reason that this team is leading it’s division, as it’s offense kind of sucks and the starting pitching is solid, but doesn’t have any Kershaws, Fernandez’s or Scherzer’s. I’m talking about the following trio from KC:
ERA FIP WHIP
As I mentioned above, this three headed monster is one of the biggest reasons the Royals are in first place. When KC enters the 7th inning with a lead, it’s locked down by these guys.
Over in the National League, we have several good candidates. One candidate, Huston Street, was traded to the AL (The Angels) so he’s not listed here.
Let’s compare 4 candidates using ERA, FIP and WHIP
ERA FIP WHIP
Candidate #1 2.84 3.79 .930
Candidate #2 1.80 1.56 .920
Candidate #3 0.84 2.14 .581
Candidate #4 1.58 2.55 .857
To me it seems like the best of the bunch is candidate #3. That is Pat Neshek. Candidate #1 is Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers closer. Candidates #2 and #4 are Greg Kimbrel and Jonathan Papelbon, respectively. Remember what I said in the beginning about saves being overrated? That seems particularly true in this case. Neshek, who pitches mainly in the 8th inning (which often has high leverage situations itself) has pitched in a few high leverage 9th inning situations as well, has been amazingly effective all season long, and if called upon, would be a very effective closer. Neshek’s season has come out of nowhere, indeed, the Cards’ were the only team to give him a contract which included a spring training invite and a chance to make the major league roster right away. He’s currently the NL’s best reliever for 2014, closer or otherwise.