There wasn’t much more Orioles left-hander Zach Britton could do to make a case for this season’s American League Cy Young Award. He was just short of perfect, converting all 47 save opportunities. But the game’s best closer in 2016 was not named Monday among the three finalists for award.
Britton had a momentous season – his 0.54 ERA was the best in major league history for a pitcher with at least 50 innings and he did not allow an earned run over 43 straight appearances, also a major league record – but the announcement served as a confirmation of how difficult it is for a reliever to win the Cy Young Award.
Only nine relievers have ever won the Cy Young award, and there have been just two relief pitchers to win over the last three decades: Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley won the AL award in 1992 and the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne won the NL award in 2003.
Neither Britton nor Orioles third baseman Manny Machado were among the three finalists for this year’s American League MVP award, but the Orioles were not completely shut out.
Showalter is a three-time Manager of the Year award, most recently in 2014, when he guided the Orioles to an AL East title and reached the AL Championship Series. He also won in 1994 with the Yankees and 2004 with the Rangers.
Machado – who posted career highs in homers (37), RBIs (96), batting average (.294) and runs scored (105) – ranked seventh among AL position players in wins above replacement (WAR) with 6.7. The three finalists for AL MVP were also the top three position players in WAR: Angels outfielder Mike Trout (10.6), Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (9.6) and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (7.7).
Britton's stock for the Cy Young award picked up steam in the second half as he didn’t allow an earned run from May 5 to Aug. 22. Britton – who won the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year award last month allowed an earned run in just four of his 69 appearances and yielded just one earned run over his last 58 appearances, pitching to a 0.16 ERA and holding opponents to a .160 average over that stretch.
All awards are selected by a vote of eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. The manager of the year award will be announced on Nov. 15, and the Cy Young awards will be unveiled the following day, followed by the MVP awards on Nov. 17.