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Both awards will be presented on Wednesday, before Game 2 of the 111th World Series, and they will mark the ultimate honor for relievers in 2015. While there are no official "nominees" for these awards, likely AL candidates could include Davis, along with Cody Allen of the Indians, Zach Britton of the Orioles and Andrew Miller of the Yankees.
Top NL contenders are expected to include Mark Melancon of the Pirates, Jeurys Familia of the Mets, Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals.
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The awards are voted on by a nine-member panel comprised of Rivera and Hoffman, as well as fellow legendary closers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner. The group represents the four living relief pitchers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is inclusive of the top six all-time saves leaders.
As part of the balloting process, all nine voters will pick three relievers from each league, based solely on regular-season performance; selections are not restricted to closers. From there, a 5-3-1 weighted point system is used to determine the winners.
Davis is arguably the Royals' most valuable player during their 2015 run into deep October, and as such, he has a strong case as the best AL choice for the blue-ribbon panel. It is not a closer award, but a reliever award, and the credentials speak for themselves.
He took over the Royals' closer role for Holland in September after Holland departed for Tommy John surgery due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. By then, Davis already had posted an 8-1 record with a career-high 17 saves in 18 opportunities as the setup man, and ended the regular season with a Major League and franchise best 0.94 ERA (7 ER in 67.1 IP) and an AL-best 0.79 WHIP out of the bullpen.
"You've got to go out there and give it three outs, no matter what inning it is," Davis said. "It's all pretty close to being the same as far as who you face in the lineup, the situation of the game. If you've got a close game, you lock it down."
"You know what you have with Wade," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Davis allowed just one earned run on six hits over his last 19 outings of the season (0.48 ERA), and for further evidence, there was his club record of 125 2/3 innings pitched without allowing a home run until Aug. 1 in Toronto. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in Minnesota on Oct. 3 for his final save of the regular season, and that marked the 56th save by the Kansas City bullpen, establishing a club record for the third year in a row.
Lefties hit just .146 against Davis, fifth among all MLB pitchers with at least 100 opponent at-bats by left-handers. Just ask Adrian Gonzalez, who struck out on an 86-mph knuckle curve with one on in the bottom of the eighth inning of the All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
This hardware replaced MLB's "Delivery Man of the Year Award," which was presented to one winner in all of MLB from 2005-2013, and it continues a longstanding baseball tradition of honoring the game's top relief pitchers. Along with Holland in the AL, Craig Kimbrel won the first one in the NL.