The 2011 Fansided American League Reliever of the Year race was a close one, not nearly as close as Eric Hosmer edging Jeremy Hellickson sixty-seven to sixty in Rookie of the Year voting, but close nonetheless. Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde trumped New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera ninety-six to eighty-three. (To learn more about the point system, read the article linked in those words.)
Valverde was perfect in 2011, converting all forty-nine of his save opportunities after blowing three in twenty-nine chances last season. The veteran right-hander worked seventy-two and a third innings, striking out sixty-nine, walking thirty-four, and finishing with an ERA of 2.24.
There was some controversy among FanSided writers as to whether a closer, Valverde specifically in this case, deserves to win the Reliever of the Year award. Guys like Daniel Bard in Boston, David Robertson in New York, and Mike Adams of Texas proved to be more efficient in their workload. While saves are a revealing statistic, it’s the guys who set up for the closers that get the brunt of the work done. I agree with the arguments being made that the seventh- and eighth-inning guys are more important but I won’t deny that I did indeed vote for Valverde.
In any case, the votes were totaled and the Tigers closer came out on top. Keep checking back for more announcements on the 2011 FanSided Baseball Awards.