NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera may be picking up his first career Cy Young Award next month, but the Yankees' closer earned another honor on Thursday, when he was named the inaugural recipient of the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award.
Rivera, in his ninth season as the Yankees' closer, finished with 43 saves (fourth in the Majors), a 1.38 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed just 50 hits and 18 walks, posting a 0.87 WHIP and a .177 opponents' batting average.
After blowing his first two save opportunities of the season -- against the Red Sox, no less -- Rivera converted his next 31 chances from April 9 through Aug. 11.
"I didn't put any emphasis on the way I started; the season wasn't going to be based on that," Rivera said last month. "People started doubting me, but I don't pay attention to that. I know what I can do, I know who I am and what I'm capable of. I knew the season wasn't going to be like those two games. You can't judge a player on the first two games."
Rivera said that he didn't use his early-season struggles as motivation. He simply put everyone's doubts behind him in the same manner in which he disposes of a blown save.
"I don't work like that," Rivera said. "I know what I'm capable of doing, so I'm not out to prove people wrong. It was just a matter of time. I wasn't worried at all."
"The number of years he's pitched so effectively is ridiculous," said manager Joe Torre. "It's still brand new for him. To me, that's all about what's important. I'm sure he's excited that it's still important. It's not a job for him. It's a profession, but there are other people who rely on him."
Rivera received 39,964 of the votes cast, almost 125,000 overall. His 33 percent of the overall vote pushed him ahead of the other nine finalists: Washington's Chad Cordero; Houston's Brad Lidge; San Diego's Trevor Hoffman; Minnesota's Joe Nathan; Chicago's Dustin Hermanson and Cliff Politte; St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen; Boston's Mike Timlin; and Seattle's Eddie Guardado.
In recognition of this honor, DHL will donate $5,000 in Rivera's name to a local chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the official charity of Major League Baseball. In addition, Rivera will be recognized in a special advertisement appearing in Friday's USA Today.
The nominees were selected by a Major League Baseball "yellow-ribbon" panel that includes Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley; Darryl Hamilton, former Major League outfielder and MLB Radio host; Jerome Holtzman, the official MLB historian and a member of the writer's wing of the Hall of Fame; Rick Sutcliffe, 1984 NL Cy Young Award winner, ESPN and MLB International broadcaster; and Bob Watson, MLB's vice president of on-field operations.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.