It was a significant challenge to select last year’s winner of The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year. The closer’s job had been a hot potato that led to nine different relievers getting saves in 2011.
To assist in the process, I laid out a bevy of stats to try to sort out the winner from among the many candidates. Ultimately, despite him having lost the ninth-inning job for the final month of the season, Fernando Salas was the selection.
This year, I don’t need any help making the call as to the top relief pitcher on the Cardinals. The choice of Jason Motte is abundantly obvious.
Never before in team history – and only five times prior in all the years of Major League Baseball – did one pitcher collect 100 percent of his team’s saves for the entire season.
With 42 of St. Louis’ 42 regular-season saves, Motte joined a very exclusive club. The others include three San Francisco Giants – Rod Beck (1996), Robb Nen (2002) and Brian Wilson (2008), plus Cincinnati’s Francisco Cordero and San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman (both in 2008).
Motte’s total tied him for the 2012 National League saves lead with Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel and the former finished 58 games, second in the NL. The elder statesman of the Cardinals bullpen at the age of 30, Motte finished in a tie for third in saves across MLB.
The former catcher became fourth Cardinals pitcher (and sixth time overall) to
achieve 40 saves or more. Motte is the first Cardinals pitcher since Jason Isringhausen in 2004 (47 saves) to lead the league.
The right-hander amassed 86 strikeouts and walked just 17 batters in 67 appearances, covering 72 innings. He added four wins, along with five losses and seven blown saves and finished with a 2.75 ERA.
Motte was very consistent all season long. He was a key contributor to the Cardinals’ early start, becoming just the fifth pitcher in team history to reach 20 saves before the all-star break.
He finished well, too, setting career monthly highs with nine saves and 19 strikeouts in September. Motte was recognized by being named the NL Player of the Week for the period of September 17-23. It was the first such award for any league closer in more than three years.
Motte also picked up a win and three saves in the post-season. He allowed two runs in 8 1/3 innings for a 2.16 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a less than one baserunner per inning (0.96 WHIP).
Congratulations to Jason Motte, The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year for 2012.
Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2012 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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