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Rodney, Kimbrel were top bullpen arms for 2012

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At the conclusion of every season, the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) are asked to submit their ballots for the top awards across baseball. Each of these awards is named in honor of a player that epitomized the role in Major League Baseball. Throughout the week, I will release my ballots for each award and I will post the official announcements from the BBA with the combined votes of all member blogs.

Here is the list of awards that have been announced and the others that will be announced in the coming days:


Goose Gossage Award for Top Reliever
American League
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1. Fernando Rodney- RHP - Tampa Bay Rays
W-L (2-2), 0.60 ERA, 0.777 WHIP, 76 SO, 15 BB, 74.2 IP, 48 S

There is a good chance Rodney will be getting some votes for the Cy Young Award after the season he put together in 2012. For the entire year, he allowed five earned runs with a couple of home runs and that is why his ERA was the lowest of all-time. His strikeout to walk rate was fantastic and he wasn't even the planned closer for the Rays when the season was beginning. The 35-year old has pitched a lackluster career until this year and now he has one of the best seasons ever for a man on the mound.

2. Ryan Cook- RHP - Oakland Athletics
W-L (6-2), 2.09 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, 80 SO, 27 BB, 73.1 IP, 14 S

In a year where the Oakland A's used a variety of men in the closers role for their club, Cook was one of the most reliable options for the team. He split time between closer and set-up man but he ended up with 14 saves and 21 holds to his credit by the end of the year. Oakland fought their way back to the top of the AL West and it took some tough pitching in late inning situations by Cook and others to let them storm back for the top spot. If not for Rodney's historic year, Cook could have been honored with the top relief award at the end of the season.

3. Jim Johnson- RHP - Baltimore Orioles
W-L (2-1), 2.49 ERA, 1.019 WHIP, 41 SO, 15 BB, 68.2 IP, 51 S

One of the reasons the Baltimore Orioles were so successful in 2012 was their ability to win close games and the back-end of their bullpen had a lot to do with this. If not for the outstanding season by Rodney, Johnson's numbers would be hard to ignore. He led the American League in saves on a team that needed every one of the close victories they were able to achieve. Mr. Johnson wasn't as perfect as Rodney but it's hard to put up those kinds of numbers as a relief arm.
National League
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1. Craig Kimbrel- RHP - Atlanta Braves
W-L (3-1), 1.01 ERA, 0.654 WHIP, 116 S0, 14 BB, 62.2 IP, 42 S

For the second year in a row, Kimbrel is the top relief pitcher in the National League. His numbers were almost like something out of a video game in 2012. He struck out half of the batters he faced during the course of the year. Let that sink in a minute... he struck out half of the men that stepped in the box against him. Just mind-boggling. He was untouchable on the mound and it looks like the Braves have their closer for the foreseeable future. Rodney didn't give up many runs but Kimbrel might have been more dominant with his ability to strikeout opposing batters.

2. Aroldis Chapman- RHP - Cincinnati Reds
W-L (5-5), 1.51 ERA, 0.809 WHIP, 122 SO, 23 BB, 71.2 IP, 38 S

Chapman didn't start the year as the closer for the Reds and he was still able to finish the year near the top of the league in saves. Cincinnati can't make up their minds about what to do with their hard throwing right-handed pitcher but he might have finally found his spot at the back-end of the bullpen. At one point during the year, it looked like Chapman might push Kimbrel for the top relief spot in the NL but he had a couple of rough appearances. This still doesn't take away from the fantastic season for Chapman and it will be interesting to see what he can do with a full season of closers duties in 2013 (if that's even what the Reds decide to do with him).

3. Jason Motte- RHP - St. Louis Cardinals
W-L (4-5), 2.87 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, 86 SO, 17 BB, 72.0 IP, 42 S

During last year's World Series run by the Cardinals, fans learned the name of Jason Motte. In his first full season as the closer in St. Louis, Motte showed that his postseason performance was not a fluke. He tied Kimbrel for the league lead in saves and his other numbers put him in elite company at the top of the NL. It was a fight for the Cardinals to get back into the postseason and they needed every out they could get from Motte over the course of the year.

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