Prior to Saturday’s Game Four in Houston, Major League Baseball began what will be a long process to start the offseason in which they hand out some of their major awards. We can quibble about what is and isn’t a major award (extremely A Christmas Story voice), but those who take home the hardware will certainly be psyched. The first awards that were given out over the weekend went to the relievers of the year. Kenley Jansen, the closer for the Dodgers, took home the award in the National League. In the American League, it was Boston’s very own Craig Kimbrel.
Kimbrel was obviously incredible for the Red Sox this year, and he was without a doubt the most dominant closer in the AL. Just at the end of last week we went over his season, so I’ll link to that here rather than repeat myself. One thing I will repeat, though, was his final strikeout rate of 49.6 percent as well as his final walk rate of 5.5 percent. He was utterly unhittable all year long, and while he clearly disappointed in his final appearance of 2017 when he allowed the Astros to overtake the Red Sox in Game Four of the ALDS, that performance shouldn’t overshadow all of the other great performances from him over 2017.
This is now the third time Kimbrel has won the award, also taking it home in 2013 and 2014. It should be noted that the award shifted in 2014. It used to be, as some of you may recall, the Delivery Man of the Year award, and it wasn’t separated by league. That means when he took home the trophy in 2013, he was deemed the best reliever in baseball rather than just the National League. Now, there is an award for each league, with the AL’s being named after Mariano Rivera and the NL’s being named after Trevor Hoffman. At 29 years old, Kimbrel isn’t quite at their level yet, but he’s on an elite track that is not seen by many relievers. If he keeps this up, he will be in the conversation as one of the greatest relievers the game has ever seen.