Rays' Rodney named AL Comeback Player of the Year and MLB Delivery Man of Year
Rays closer Fernando Rodney's historic season earned him a couple big awards Friday.
Rodney, whose .60 ERA was the best-ever for a reliever, was named American League Comeback Player of the Year, as well as Major League Baseball’s Delivery Man of the Year, an award that recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher of the regular season as voted on by a panel from MLB.
"I was surprised by the year I had," Rodney said after the Rays season finale. "Next year, I want to be the same guy and do my job. I want to be the same person I am today."
Rodney, in his first year with Tampa Bay, went 2-2 with 48 saves in a career-high 76 appearances, earning his first All-Star selection after going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 39 games with the Angels in 2011. Rodney's .60 ERA set a major league record for a relief pitcher with a minimum of 50 innings pitched, passing the previous record of .61, set in 1990 by Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.
Rodney's 48 saves, second in the majors, were a career-best and set a new Rays club-record. He is the second Ray to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, joining Carlos Pena in 2007, and he joins Cliff Lee (A.L., 2008), Brad Lidge (N.L., 2008), Chris Carpenter (N.L., 2009), Francisco Liriano (A.L. 2010) and Tim Hudson (N.L., 2010) as the only pitchers to win the award.
Giants C Buster Posey won NL Comeback Player of the Year.
Rodney, 35, could also garner some AL Cy Young Award votes, with the results announced in mid-November. Rodney, who signed for $1.75 million after a couple disappointing seasons in Anaheim, became arguably the year's biggest bargain, taking over the closer's role after RHP Kyle Farnsworth suffered an elbow injury in spring training.
Rodney said he could sense while pitching last winter in the Dominican that he was capable of a turnaround, and his much improved fastball command - combined with a devastating changeup - made him one of the league's dominant pitchers. He allowed just five earned runs all season, holding opponent's to a .167 batting average.
Rodney also became a fan favorite, with his post-save celebration - shooting an imaginary arrow into the sky - becoming his much-anticipated signature move, as well as how he wore his cap tilted to the left. The Rays sent his cap from the season-finale to the Hall of Fame.
Rodney has a team option of $2.5 million option for next season and will be back, but will have a tough time topping the year he just had.
-- JOE SMITH