Mariners closer Edwin Díaz and Brewers left-handed reliever Josh Hader were selected as the recipients of the AL and NL Reliever of the Year awards, Major League Baseball announced Saturday. It marked the first time either pitcher had received the distinction.
Díaz, 24, completed his first All-Star campaign with the Mariners in 2018. He earned league-best totals with 57 saves and 65 games finished, and placed second only to Athletics closer Blake Treinen with a 1.96 ERA and 3.5 fWAR across 73 1/3 innings, both career-high marks. Not only was he the second-ever pitcher to record 50+ saves and 100+ strikeouts in a single major-league season, but his 57 saves also established a new all-time record for most saves by a Puerto Rican pitcher in MLB, edging out the 43-save record Roberto Hernández set with the Rays in 1999.
Hader, also just 24 years old, rounded out his second season in the majors with a 2.43 ERA, 12 saves, and career-best 2.7 fWAR in 81 1/3 innings. His 143 strikeouts were the most among any reliever in the majors, and the most by a left-handed reliever in any MLB season, too. The lefty’s stellar year on the mound still has a shadow hanging over it, however, as he found himself at the center of considerable controversy in July when a number of racist, homophobic, and misogynistic tweets were uncovered during the All-Star Game, for which the Brewers ultimately decided not to issue a formal punishment.
Until 2018, neither the Mariners nor the Brewers had seen a single pitcher receive the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year and Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year awards, respectively. The Red Sox’ Craig Kimbrel and Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen took home the awards in 2017.