Orioles' Bautista, Brewers' Williams honored as MLB Relievers of the Year
Two of baseball's best relievers were honored Wednesday for their stellar 2023 campaigns.
Baltimore Orioles stopper Félix Bautista won the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League Reliever of the Year, while Milwaukee Brewers closer Devin Williams claimed the National League Trevor Hoffman Award for the second time in his career.
Bautista's season ended early due to an elbow issue that eventually led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery. That development wasn't enough to stop Bautista from taking home this award after authoring a dominant campaign for the 101-win Orioles.
The 28-year-old posted a 1.48 ERA, 1.88 FIP, and 0.92 WHIP, along with 110 strikeouts and 33 saves in only 61 innings in 2023. His 16.2 K/9 rate not only led the majors but was the seventh-best ever for a reliever with at least 50 innings pitched. Bautista also led all relievers in FIP and strikeouts, was tied for the league lead in fWAR, and allowed only four home runs all year.
Bautista, who finished 11th in AL Cy Young voting, joins Zack Britton (2016) as the only Orioles relievers to win this award. He beat out the Cleveland Guardians' Emmanuel Clase, last year's AL winner, and the Toronto Blue Jays' Jordan Romano for the honor, per The Associated Press.
Williams becomes the sixth pitcher to win this award in multiple seasons, joining Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel, Edwin Díaz, Liam Hendriks, and his former Brewers bullpen-mate Josh Hader. He previously won it as a rookie in 2020.
The 29-year-old was electric for Milwaukee this past season, authoring a 1.53 ERA, 2.66 FIP, and 0.92 WHIP, along with 87 strikeouts and 36 saves in 61 appearances. He also gave up only four homers and was second among NL relievers in K/9 (13.3).
A Brewers reliever has now won the Hoffman Award in five of the last six seasons. One of Hader or Williams had taken home the honor each year from 2018-21 before Díaz snapped their streak in 2022.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' David Bednar was the NL runner-up behind Williams, while Hader, who pitched for the San Diego Padres in 2023, finished third.
Voting for both awards was conducted by a panel featuring six iconic former relievers, including both Rivera and Hoffman.