Posted on October 30, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Postseason hardware in baseball continues to get handed out piece by piece, and on Saturday the recipients were Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers who were named the top relief pitcher in their respective leagues for 2016. Britton was given the Mariano Rivera Award for the best reliever in the American League, while Jansen received the Trevor Hoffman Award for the best reliever in the National League. Both are more than worthy recipients.
“Congratulations to Zach Britton and Kenley Jansen for their outstanding performances this season,” said Doug Elliot, president of The Hartford, who presented the awards alongside commissioner Rob Manfred, as well as Rivera and Hoffman. “Zach and Kenley consistently deliver for their teams during the biggest moments of a game. At The Hartford, we are committed to doing the same for our customers by ensuring they prevail when the unexpected happens.”
Baseball today is almost overflowing with quality relief pitchers, but it’s hard to argue with with Britton and Jansen receiving the award. Britton posted an astounding 0.54 ERA this season, allowing just four earned runs in 67 innings of work. He was a perfect 47 for 47 in save opportunities, helping the Orioles reach the American League wild card game.
“I think it’s a credit to the teammates around me,” Britton said. “Obviously you’re only as good as the guys behind you on the field. Me relying on ground balls, obviously we have a great defense back there. So a lot of the credit goes to the teammates and putting me in situations to be successful, too. The coaching staff, everyone really went out of their way to make sure — or put me in situations to be successful. That’s really what it comes down to at the end of the day. You’re only as good as the guys around you.”
Jansen also finished the season with 47 saves, which was second in the National League behind Mets closer Jeurys Familia. He also had the lowest whip in baseball at 0.67, as well as the highest strikeout rate in the National League, in addition to his 1.83 ERA. Jansen helped the Dodgers win the NL West and ultimately advance to the NLCS.
“Thank you so much for this tremendous honor,” Jansen said in a video, as he was unable to attend the ceremony. “I’m so sorry that I could not be there to receive the Trevor Hoffman Award from the man himself, a pitcher I respect and always admire.”
The awards are decided by a set of eight former relievers, highlighted by Rivera and Hoffman. The other six former relievers that vote are Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. Britton edged out Andrew Miller and Roberto Osuna in the American League, while Jansen beat out Familia and Mark Melancon, who were the runners up in the National League.
After winning the award, Britton and Jansen are both looking ahead to what could be an eventful offseason. There is talk of the Orioles possibly trading Britton or moving him to the starting rotation as his salary increases. Meanwhile, Jansen is about to enter free agency and figures to be one of the most sought after relief pitchers on the market. Winning the Trevor Hoffman Award should only enhance his value on the open market.