During the 2022 Winter Meetings, Major League Baseball announced the winners of the AL and NL Reliever of the Year awards. The awards, better known as the Trevor Hoffman (NL) and Mariano Rivera (AL) Reliever of the Year awards, are given to the two most valuable relief pitchers, one from each league. There were a number of standout relievers from this past season, but two stood above the rest.
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New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz was the recipient of the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year award. Diaz had a dominant 2022, striking out 118 batters over 62.1 innings pitched while pitching to the tune of a 1.31 ERA. Diaz’s gaudy strikeout numbers were thanks to an elite slider that Diaz used almost 60% of the time in 2022. Batters whiffed 54.7% of the time on the Mets reliever’s breaking ball.
The hard-throwing right-hander finished ninth in the NL Cy Young award, won by Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara.
The winner of the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year award in 2022 was Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase. Clase led all pitchers in baseball in 2022 in games pitched (77), games finished (67), and saves (42). The Guardians reliever struck out 77 batters over 72.2 innings, and had a sparkling 1.2 BB/9 rate during the regular season for the AL Central champions.
Clase’s success can be attributed to a hard cutter that generates weak contact, and a low-90’s slider that was a great change-of-pace pitcher for the 2022 AL All-Star. Clase’s slider had a 42.7% Whiff rate, and 44 of the reliever’s strikeouts came off the pitch.