Yesterday the BBA introduced the Goose Gossage Award, which will operate something like a Cy Young for relievers, voted on every fall by BBA membership.
It remains to be seen exactly how voters will approach the award, but one of the things I like most about naming the award after Gossage is that he was a dominating reliever who was more than just a "closer." Gossage routinely pitched multiple innings. During his prime, from 1975-1985, he averaged 109 innings a season. And, although he led the league in saves three times, he regularly pitched in non-save situations as well. In what might be his finest season, with the Pirates in 1977, Gossage threw 133 innings in relief and made 72 appearances, less than half of which came in save situations.
Unlike something like the Rolaids Relief Man Award, using Gossage as inspiration for the award allows BBA voters to look well beyond the save statistic. Last year, for instance, Heath Bell won the NL version of the Rolaids award based mainly on his 42 saves, which paced the senior circuit. Granted, Bell was very good. However, Jonathan Broxton was clearly a class above, as he led Bell in nearly every other category - ERA, WHIP, W, IP, etc. - and struck out an astounding 114 hitters in 76 innings, while holding opposing batters to a .165 average, best in the majors amongst pitchers who threw 60+ innings.
In 2008 one might've argued that the most deserving recipient in the NL wasn't a closer at all, but middle reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, who led all NL relievers in ERA (1.69), WHIP (0.92), and Defense-Independent Pitching (2.04), otherwise known as DIPS.
Many thanks to the Gossage for lending his name to the award and I look forward to voting on it.