2011 NL Goose Gossage Award
It is that time, once again, to start taking a look at each of the major year end awards. As I did last year, I will be submitting a ballot here on the blog for each of the awards selected by the BBWAA. However, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, we use a different selection of names for our awards – our own tribute to some of the game’s greats and because the BBWAA has actually asked us to do so (to avoid confusion, I presume). Over the past two seasons the BBA and BBWAA have chosen the same recipient for nearly every award.
We’ve already taken a look at the Connie Mack Award (given to the league’s top manager) and the Willie Mays Award (top rookie). Now we’ll turn our attention to the top relief pitchers. The 2011 National League Goose Gossage Award goes to …..
There are plenty of relievers in the NL who managed to have strong 2011 seasons. Three of them pitched their games in the same uniform as members of the Atlanta Braves. Craig Kimbrel flourished in the closer’s role, saving a rookie record and league leading (tied with Milwaukee’s John Axford) 46 games while finishing with a 2.10 ERA in 77.0 innings of work. His primary setup man, Jonny Venters, posted a 6-2 record with 35 holds and a 1.84 ERA in 88.0 innings. Eric O’Flaherty rounded out the trio, finishing with 32 holds in 73.2 innings with a rare 0.98 ERA.
Washington’s Tyler Clippard finished the season 3-0 with a league leading 38 holds in 88.1 innings with a 1.83 ERA. His bullpen mate, Drew Storen posted a 6-3 record, 2.75 ERA, and 43 saves. Arizona’s J.J. Putz very quietly saved 45 games with a 2.17 ERA. Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan (40) and San Diego’s Heath Bell (43) also saved more than 40 games this year in the NL.
|2011 NL Goose Gossage Award|
Ultimately, however, it is the aforementioned Axford that takes home top honors in 2011. In 74 appearances Axford pitched a total of 73.2 innings with a 1.95 ERA and 10.2 K/9. His 46 saves tied for the league lead and he only blew two opportunities while helping to lead the Brewers to the playoffs as the NL Central Champions. Kimbrel, who’s 14.8 K/9 was absolutely astonishing, will come in a close second. His performance this season was dominant but Axford was more valuable to his team considering Kimbrel’s supporting cast was also so impressive this year.