Although he toiled in relative obscurity in Pittsburgh, my top vote almost went to Mark Melancon. Had he not struggled in the latter part of September, he most certainly would have garnered my top selection. Melancon went 3-2 on the year with 16 saves, a 1.39 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP, but his most impressive statistics was the fact that he only gave up one home run over his 71 innings on the mound in the regular season. He also showed incredible control, walking a miserly one batter per nine innings while striking out 8.9.
The Dodgers’ closer, Kenley Jansen, rounds out my ballot thanks to his 4-3 record, 28 saves and a 1.88 ERA. Jansen relied heavily on his nasty cut fastball to strike out nearly as many hitters as Kimbrel did – an incredible 13.0 batters per nine innings.
My National League ballot is as follows:
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves
- Mark Melancon, Pirates
- Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
Without a doubt, Koji Uehara had the most dominant season out of the bullpen in the entire major leagues. In fact, Uehara broke Dennis Eckersley’s all-time MLB record for the lowest WHIP by posting an absurd 0.57 mark. Add in 21 saves and a 1.09 ERA and the 38-year-old wonder gets my vote easily.
Greg Holland had a fantastic year for the Kansas City Royals on the way to breaking the team’s single-season record for saves (47). The record was previously shared by Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993). Holland posted a 1.21 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP in what was by far the best season of his career.
Another 38-year-old, Joe Nathan, rounds out my ballot by virtue of the 43 saves he earned for the Texas Rangers. Nathan also had a 6-2 record to go along with a miniscule 1.39 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.
My AL ballot is therefore:
- Koji Uehara, Red Sox
- Greg Holland, Royals
- Joe Nathan, Rangers