Padres closer Heath Bell was recognized Wednesday for his stellar performance this season when he was named the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year.
Bell converted 47 of 50 save opportunities this season, placing him one behind Giants closer Brian Wilson, who led the league. Bell's save total was the second-highest single-season total for a Padres reliever, trailing only Trevor Hoffman's 53-save campaign in 1998. Bell's 1.93 ERA was a career low, and his six wins tied a career high, which he has now matched four times. Bell also made his second-consecutive All-Star team in July.
"He's probably the No. 1 guy to go to whenever you need a shutdown inning. He's one of the best at what he does, that's why he's our closer," Bell's teammate Mat Latos said in August. "He's done an unbelievable job so far this year."
In 2009, Bell suffered three of his six blown saves in September and later said he considered his season a failure because of it. He said that poor finish prompted him to improve his fitness, so that he could remain strong late in the season.
"In September , I didn't feel like I was tired," Bell said. "Everybody said I was heavier at the end of the season than I was at the beginning, and I really wasn't. I took it as a personal goal to improve on what everybody said I was bad at last year."
This season, Bell worked with strength and conditioning coach Jim Malone on a revamped workout routine and has also started taking Herbalife, a type of nutrition shake.
"It's been shocking my body to work out differently," Bell said. "Instead of just running on the treadmill all the time, I run outside, I'm doing the elliptical, doing the bike, then I take a couple days off. I'm still a big guy; I'm always going to be a big guy. I'm going to work hard this offseason to get thinner."
Bell was 10-for-10 in save opportunities after Sept. 1 and earned saves in two victories in San Francisco in the regular season-ending series with the Giants.
The veteran was the capstone of the Padres' bullpen, which kept the club in the postseason chase until the final day of the season. The bullpen also included Luke Gregerson, who set a Major League record with 40 holds this season.
"We want to be one of the best bullpens in the league," Bell said in August. "No, we want to be the best bullpen in baseball. We're one of the top now, but we're going to keep trying."
Bell won the award over Wilson, Rays reliever Rafael Soriano, Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and Royals righty Joakim Soria.
Sunil Joshi is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.