Rays pitcher Alex Torres is my choice. Of course the real final player vote in the American League is between a group of good middle relief pitchers, but I feel that my choice has merit. I know Alex Torres may not be a household name, or one that comes up very often in the discussion of good players around the league, but Torres is having a great season. Great might actually be selling it short.
I have a long history with Alex Torres since he has spent parts of the last three seasons on the Durham Bulls. Most of his time in AAA has been spent as a starter with a reputation for lots of strikeouts and some bouts of wildness. During the 2011 season Torres lead the International League in strikeouts averaging more than one per inning. Last season he appeared in 26 games for the Bulls striking out more than a batter per inning again, but also almost walking a batter per inning too. Not good.
Given the struggles of Torres in 2012, I was not surprised to see him resurface in Durham at the beginning of the season. However, this time around in AAA Torres was dominating in 9 starts posting 61 strikeouts in 46 innings while walking only 21 batters and giving up less than a hit per inning. By the middle of May Torres received a well deserve call up to Tampa to add depth to their bullpen. The results have been incredible.
In roughly two months of play Torres has appeared in 14 games for the Rays out of the bullpen covering a total of 25 innings for the team. During that time Torres has continued his trend of striking out more than a batter per inning racking up a total of 31 or 11.2 per nine. More impressive is Torres WHIP of 0.56 which breaks down to 8 walks, which looks nice next to the 25 innings pitched, and an incredible 6 hits. That's not a typo, 6 hits allowed in almost two months of games.
A few additional Torres nuggets of gold:
+0 home runs allowed
+Left handed hitters are batting a whopping .100 against Torres
+Right handed hitters are batting .056
+Torres has allowed a total of one hit all year with a runner in scoring position
+With 2 outs and runners in scoring position hitters are batting .000 against Torres striking out 50% of the time
+22 at-bats have been taken against Torres in "late and close" situations: Torres has surrendered 1 hit
+AL East teams are batting .111 against Torres in 45 at bats
If you were managing the American League All-Star team knowing that the game could earn your team possible home field advantage in the World Series why would you not want a pitcher like Torres sitting in your bullpen ready to get a few tough outs? If it were my decision I would take the Rays talented left-hander to New York for the a well deserved All-Star game appearance.