Kenley Jansen of the National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers is the recipient of the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award for the second consecutive season, while Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox has earned the 2017 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.
Representatives of Major League Baseball and presenting sponsor The Hartford made the announcement today at a press conference before Game Four of the World Series, which was attended by Jansen as well as Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Hoffman, Rivera and Doug Elliot, president of The Hartford.
Jansen closed out Game Four in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the Astros, tying the World Series at two games apiece, with Game 5 set for Sunday in Houston.
In his eighth year in the Major Leagues, Jansen became the first pitcher to win either the Rivera or Hoffman Award consecutively in the four-year history of this honor. The 30-year-old was a key cog of one of the best seasons in Dodger franchise history, as the club set a Los Angeles-era record with 104 wins en route to its fifth consecutive NL West title.
The second-time NL All-Star in 2017 posted a 1.32 ERA and a 0.746 WHIP, allowing only 44 hits and seven walks across 68.1 innings, in which he struck out 109 batters. The 6’5” right-hander also put up a 5-0 record and tied for the NL lead with 41 saves in 42 opportunities.
The Dodgers’ all-time leader in saves (230) averaged 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, compared to just 0.9 walks, and limited opponents to a .171 average, including just .120 by right-handed hitters.
It was the Curaçao native’s sixth straight season of 25 or more saves, including his fourth straight with more than 35 and his third of more than 40. This season Jansen recorded 10 saves of four outs or more. He also struck out the side in an “immaculate inning” – on just nine pitches – on May 18, just the 79th such occurrence in Major League history.
Kimbrel’s eighth year in the Majors and second with the Red Sox brought his sixth career All-Star selection. He fashioned an AL-best 1.43 ERA and a Major League-best 0.681 WHIP in his 67 games, limiting opponents to 33 hits and 14 walks in his 69.0 innings of work.
The Alabama native shared the Major League lead among relievers by fanning 126 batters, the most by a Red Sox reliever since Dick Radatz in 1964 and good for a Major League-best 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kimbrel struck out 49.6 percent of the 249 batters he faced in 2017 and kept opposing batters to a .140 average (.109 by right-handed hitters) on his way to assembling a 5-0 record and 35 saves for AL East Champion Boston. He was also the winning pitcher for the American League in the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami.
Kimbrel has posted more than 30 saves in each of the seven full seasons of his career. The right-hander is now the first pitcher ever to win both the Rivera and Hoffman Awards. In 2014, Kimbrel was the inaugural recipient of the Hoffman Award.
“We congratulate Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen for being named this year’s Reliever of the Year Award winners and applaud them for their outstanding achievements this season,” said The Hartford’s President Doug Elliot. “When it matters the most, Craig and Kenley help their teams prevail. At The Hartford, we share that commitment to deliver during the big moments.”
Balloting for the Rivera and Hoffman Awards, which debuted in the 2014 season, was conducted among a panel of seven all-time great relievers in order to determine the recipients.
Rivera and Hoffman, both of whom spent their entire careers in the same League en route to the top of the all-time saves list, were joined as voters by three Hall of Fame relief pitchers – Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter – as well as John Franco and Billy Wagner. The seven voters ranked the top three AL relief pitchers and the top three NL relief pitchers based solely on regular season performance, using a 5-3-1 weighted point system.
The Rivera and Hoffman Awards replaced MLB’s “Delivery Man of the Year Award,” which was presented to one winner in all of Major League Baseball from 2005-2013, and have continued a longstanding baseball tradition of honoring the game’s top relief pitchers.
The inaugural winners in 2014 were Kimbrel, then of the Atlanta Braves, in the NL and Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals for the AL. The 2015 recipients were Mark Melancon, then of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Andrew Miller, then of the New York Yankees, while last year’s honorees were Jansen and Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles.
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