Liam Hendriks, who has gone from the designated for assignment list to being the stalwart of the Oakland bullpen in the last two years, was named the 2020 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Saturday.
In a season shortened to 60 games by the COVID=19 pandemic, Hendriks converted 14 of his 15 save opportunities for the A’s. He blew a save on opening night, but the A’s came back to win the game on Matt Olson’s grand slam in extra innings against the Angels.
From that point on, Hendricks was a perfect 14-for-14 in saves, finishing second in the Major Leagues in saves, thanks in large part to a 1.78 ERA.
“Honored is an understatement,” Hendriks said in a statement released by Major League Baseball. ““It’s humbling to win an award that bears the name of the greatest closer in history.
“I’m extremely thankful to my teammates. If they weren’t behind me on the field, I wouldn’t be half the pitcher I am today. A huge thank you to the bullpen for sharing years of invaluable advice and experience with me. Thank you to the coaching staff and the entire organization for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play in the green and gold.”
Hendriks struck out 37 men in 25.1 innings, walked just three and allowed just one homer.
He did it all, as all baseball players did, without fans in the stands.
“To A’s fans everywhere, I’ve had the privilege to represent you since I arrived here five years ago, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,”: Hendriks said.
Balloting for the award was conducted among a panel of seven all-time great relievers, including Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner.
Hendriks is the first A’s pitcher to win the award, which was established in 2014. Three A’s relievers won the award’s predecessor, the Rolaids Relief Award, including Eckersley (1988, 1992) Billy Koch (2002) and Keith Foulke (2003).
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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