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10/23/09 4:01 PM ET

Rivera locks down Sporting News honors

Closer named top reliever in AL, selected to all-star team

The Sporting News has named Mariano Rivera the American League's Reliever of the Year for the 2009 season as selected by a panel of 31 Major League general managers and assistant GMs.

Rivera's award capped a week that saw the Yankees shine in the eyes of the Sporting News. On Thursday, the publication named its American League all-star team, which included Rivera; Mark Teixeira, first base; Derek Jeter, shortstop; and Hideki Matsui as designated hitter.

Rivera went 3-3 with a 1.76 ERA and 44 saves in 66 games this season. It was the seventh time in his career that he reached the 40-save plateau. He also earned career save No. 500 this season.

"His first couple of pitches to right-handers usually are front-door cutters -- it starts at the hitter's hip, then catches the inside part of the plate," said Todd Jones, former Major League closer and current Sporting News contributor. "Once Rivera gets those in the zone, he just puts away the game with cutters on or just off the outside part of plate. When he faces a left-hander, Rivera starts with cutters in. But what separates him is he can throw a cutter right up at your hands. He can throw one pitch to four parts of the plate."

Teixeira, in his first season with the Yankees, hit .292 with 39 home runs and 122 RBIs.

Jeter, who surpassed Lou Gehrig as the Yankees' all-time hits leader this season, hit .334 with 18 home runs, 66 RBIs and scored 107 runs.

Matsui hit .274 with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs in his seventh season with the Yankees.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.