The MLB Reliever of the Year award was instituted in the 2014 season and is given to the best reliever in each league. It's an award the Milwaukee Brewers are all too familiar with as it has gone to a member of the Crew's bullpen in four of the nine years of its existence.
From 2018 to 2022, the NL Reliever of the Year trophy, named after famed closer Trevor Hoffman, resided in Milwaukee. In three of those seasons, it was former Brewers reliever Josh Hader who won the award (2018, 2019, 2021) while Devin Williams broke Hader's personal streak to win it once himself (2020).
It may come as no surprise that in 2023, the Brewers once again had one of the stronger bullpens in the league, leading the National League with a 3.40 ERA and holding batters to an NL best .220 batting average. It may also come as no surprise that a Milwaukee reliever is in the mix for NL Reliever of the Year yet again.
Brewers closer Devin Williams has a chance to win the second NL Reliever of the Year award of his career.
After the now infamous trade that sent Hader to the Padres for a mix of MLB players and prospects, Williams took over the closer's role full-time for the first time in his career. Though there were a couple blown saves, overall he acquitted himself well, going 4-4, converting 9 of 11 save opportunities, and putting up a 2.57 ERA in a span of 21 innings while holding batters to a miniscule .149 average.
After that brief introduction to the full-time gig, Williams got his shot at doing it for a full season in 2023. It would be hard to say that it was anything but a glaring success because it may have just resulted in the best season of his young career.
In 58.2 innings, Williams went 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 0.932 WHIP, that ERA and WHIP being the best of his career outside of the shortened 2020 season where he only threw 27 innings. He also collected a career high 36 saves last year, fourth best in the NL, and made the All-Star game for the second straight season.
Of course, his biggest competition for the award is likely his ex-teammate, Hader. The lanky lefty had three fewer saves and a higher WHIP (1.101), but a better ERA (1.28) and more strikeouts per nine innings (13.6 to 13.3 for Williams). The fWAR battle is tight as well with Williams (1.8) barely edging out Hader (1.7).
The MLB Relievers of the Year will be announced this Wednesday evening. It feels like either a current or former Brewers reliever is destined to take home the hardware that night.