Every big league pitcher wants the ball with the game on the line, but the eight relievers nominated for the 2013 GIBBY Closer of the Year Award truly excelled in that situation during the 2013 season.
The group is headlined by outgoing iconic Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and American League Championship Series MVP Award winner Koji Uehara. It also includes 2013 All-Stars Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Greg Holland, Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan. Kenley Jansen rounds out the list of eight.
Fans are invited to log on to MLB.com and vote for the game's top closer in 2013. In the past five years, fans have cast more than 50 million votes across the various GIBBY categories, none of which was restricted to individual league affiliation. Fan voting runs through Dec. 1.
Winners will be presented their GIBBY trophies at the MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Of this group, fans most recently saw Uehara in action when he helped guide the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series championship. After assuming the closer's role in late June, Uehara recorded the lowest single-season WHIP (0.57) in history among pitchers who logged at least 50 innings. In contrast, fans have had plenty of time to examine the body of work of veterans like Rivera, who exits as the game's all-time saves leader, and Nathan, who, at age 38, became just the 13th pitcher in Major League history with 40-plus saves and an ERA less than 1.50 in the same year.
Kimbrel is no stranger to the closer's spotlight either, turning in another stellar year for the National League East champion Braves. The hard-throwing right-hander, who has consistently been among the game's top relievers since winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2011, was tied for the Major League lead with 50 saves this past season.
Speaking of heat, everyone knows about Chapman's fastball, which routinely clocks in at triple digits. The lefty finished his second consecutive All-Star season with baseball's top strikeout rate among pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (15.83 strikeouts per nine innings).
Another nominee who helped pace his club to a first-place finish was the Dodgers' Jansen, who notched a career-high 28 saves and retired 27 straight hitters at one point this summer.
AL Central rivals Holland and Perkins flew somewhat under the radar, but Holland tied for the Majors' second-lowest ERA among pitchers with at least 60 innings, and he recorded the top strikeout total (103) for any AL reliever since 2006. Perkins notched more saves (36) than any Twins closer since 2009.
A number of Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's top play, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 topic, regular-season moment and postseason moment, from MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.
Fernando Rodney took home the Closer of the Year Award last season, while Jose Valverde earned the honor in 2011.