2017 IBWAA Ballot: AL/NL RP of the Year

My ballot for the AL/NL RP of the Year for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America.

When coming up with my ballot for 3 RP in each league, I used WAR and K/9 with the traditional stats such as ERA and WHIP.  Personally, saves did not factor into my decision, as I tend to view the save as an antiquated stat that does not equate to true dominance.

American League RP of the Year

  1. Craig Kimbrel, BOS
  2. Andrew Miller, CLE
  3. Roberto Osuna, TOR

Kimbrel was the easy choice in the AL.  He led the league in WAR at 3.3 and dominated hitters to the tune of 16.43 K/9 and a stellar 1.43 ERA.  Kimbrel struck out 126 batters in only 69 IP while converting 35 out of 36 save chances.  His second year in Boston was vintage Kimbrel after injuries limited his effectiveness in 2016.

Miller and Osuna were a distant second and third for me, but the separation between those two was pretty slim.  Despite Osuna posting the better WAR 2.9 to 2.3, Miller was more dominant throughout the season.  Osuna’s struggles are well chronicled but despite his personal issues, I was surprised at how dominant he was.  While his ERA is a little high at 3.38, his FIP and xFIP both beat out Miller.  While I do not hold the save in high regard, I do expect elite RP to close the door and save leads.  Osuna’s 10 blown saves was the deal breaker for me and so he comes in at 3rd overall.

Honorable mention goes to Chad Green and Anthony Swarzak.  A case could have been made for Green to make the top 3, but ultimately, I left him off because of his lack of late game high leverage situations.

National League RP of the Year

  1. Kenley Jansen, LAD
  2. Corey Knebel, MIL
  3. Felipe Rivero, PIT

As dominant as Kimbrel was in the AL, Jansen was even better.  He lead all of MLB relievers with a 3.5 WAR and posted an absurd 15.57 K/BB ratio.  Jansen only blew 1 save on the year and posted a ridiculous 1.32 ERA.

Corey Knebel comes in at a solid #2.  The former middle reliever came out of nowhere to solidify an underrated Brewers’ pen that kept Milwaukee in contention for the Wild Card until the last week of the season.  Knebel posted career highs in games and IP (76), strikeouts (126), ERA (1.76) and saved 39 of 45 games.  His 2.8 WAR was second best in the NL.

Felipe Rivero of the Pirates, acquired last year from the Nationals emerged as one the better RP in all of MLB in 2017.  Rivero became the closer for the Pirates midseason and posted an impressive 1.67 ERA in 75.1 IP.  His FIP and xFIP suggest that he was a little lucky in the ERA department, however his LOB% improved from 69.3% in 2016 to 79.5% in 2017.  Whie K rate remained similar, the biggest difference is the improved control, lowering his walks from 33 to 20.

Honorable Mention goes to Archie Bradley.  The former top 100 prospect has found a home in the Diamondback bullpen.  His 2.1 WAR matched Rivero for 3rd in the NL.

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