BBA Ballot: NL Reliever of the Year


This is the second BBA ballot Marlin Maniac filled out this season. Check out fellow Marlins fans and BBA bloggers Ted and Dave over at Marlins Diehards for their ballot for the Goose Gossage Award.

This week, we continue with the BBA end-of-season awards with the National League Goose Gossage Award, awarded to the league’s best reliever. This season, I’ve adjusted the way I do my pitcher WAR, going to an approach where I calculate runs allowed based on RE24 found on FanGraph and take that value away from the average pitcher. I then tease out defensive contribution equal to the team’s total defense (measured by UZR) prorated to the pitcher’s number of balls in play. Relievers get an added bonus since they pitch in higher leverage relief appearances, but I chain the leverage (give the reliever the average between his leverage and 1, the leverage of an average situation) in order to account for how relievers are actually replaced in real life.

But enough chitter-chatter, I calculated the numbers already. Let’s see what Marlin Maniac’s votes for 2010’s National League Goose Gossage Award are! Here are the three candidates in order:

3. Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers (3.6 WAR)

Kuo was an intriguing name before the season because he had just come back from an injury-riddled 2009 season. He had a pretty damn good 2008 campaign, going 80 innings in just over 40 appearances and notching over 10 K/9. This year, he stepped it up to the plate even more, allowing just eight runs in 60 innings pitched and striking out almost 11 per 9 innings (31.9% of batters faced!). With Jonathan Broxton struggling and George Sherrill healing, Kuo got some late inning looks and notched 12 saves in 13 tries. You can expect the Dodgers to use him even more in the late innings now that he’s continued his impressive pitching from 2008.

2. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants (3.5 WAR)

I’ve heard Brian Wilson is a pretty cool guy, but he was a fiery, dominant reliever this season. Wilson was the leader of a vaunted Giants bullpen which was second in the majors in ERA, third in FIP, and eighth in xFIP. Wilson outplayed them all with a fastball that averaged almost 96 MPH and a 49% ground ball rate to boot. He has cut down on his walks, gotten more swings and misses, and developed into one of the best relievers in the NL. He is probably the best true talent reliever in the NL as of now (part of the reason why I gave the tiebreaker between him and Kuo to him), but this season he stands at second best to just one man.

1. Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs (3.8 WAR)

Marmol was your typical Carlos Marmol this season, except perhaps dialed up to eleven. He still has issues with walks; Marmol allowed 52 free passes in only 77 2/3 IP this year, a rate of six per nine innings (14.6% UIBB%!). However, while he was walking a sky-high total, he was punching out hitters with unbelievable stuff at an equally incredible rate. Marmol faced 328 batters this year among those he did not walk intentionally and ended up striking out 138 of them, a ridiculous 42.1% rate. No pitcher with at least 60 innings of work topped that absurd mark, with Eric Gagne coming the closest in his monstrous 2001 season. Combine that huge strikeout rate with only one home run and even the slightly high .325 BABIP or the Cubs’ poor defense could even out his season.

Congratulations to Carlos Marmol for being the top man in Marlin Maniac’s 2010 National League Goose Gossage Award. I think the race between him and Wilson will be one of many other tight NL races this season.