Major League Baseball tonight announced that Orioles LHP ZACH BRITTON has been named the 2016 recipient of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year award. Britton was presented with his award prior to tonight's Game 4 of the 112th World Series.
Britton, 28, went 47-for-47 in save opportunities this season, posting the third-longest stretch of consecutive saves converted to start a season in MLB history, and longest by a left-handed pitcher, since 1969 when saves became an official statistic (STATS, LLC). Britton led the American League and ranked tied for second in MLB with 47 saves, finishing the season as the only qualifying reliever with a 100 percent save percentage. He also set a Major League record by posting 43 consecutive relief appearances (41.1 IP) without surrendering an earned run from May 5-August 22 (STATS, LLC). This season, the southpaw made his second career All-Star Game appearance and earned the save for the American League squad, tossing a scoreless ninth inning. He ranked first among qualifying relievers with a 0.54 ERA (4 ER/67.0 IP), which also led all Major League pitchers (min. 50.0 IP) and totaled the lowest single-season ERA by a qualifying reliever since 1913. With a sinker rated by ESPN.com as the best pitch in Major League Baseball, Britton paced MLB relievers in ground ball/fly ball ratio (9.77) and in ground ball percentage (79.4 percent).
His 120 career saves rank third on the Orioles all-time list. On August 3, he earned his 106th career save, passing Tippy Martinez for the club record for saves by a left-handed pitcher. Since 2014, Britton leads all American League pitchers in saves (ranks fourth in MLB) and ranks second among qualifying MLB relievers with a 1.38 ERA (32 ER/209.0 IP).
Balloting for the award was conducted by a panel of eight all-time great relievers. Among the participating voters were Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman (the National League trophy's namesake), as well as Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. The eight voters ranked the top three American League and top three National League relief pitchers based solely on regular season performance, using a 5-3-1 weighted point system.
Britton becomes the first Orioles pitcher to win the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year honor since the award's inception in 2014. Past winners include Andrew Miller (New York Yankees, 2015) and Greg Holland (Kansas City Royals, 2014).