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Braves flamethrower Craig Kimbrel sets rookie saves record

Jul 7, 2011, 4:45 PM EDT

Craig Kimbrel AP

By picking up No. 27 Thursday against the Rockies, Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record for the most saves prior to the All-Star break.

The old record was 26, set by Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon in 2006.

Kimbrel, who wasn’t picked for next week’s All-Star Game, has received a whopping 32 save chances in the Braves’ 89 games this season.  The next most in either league is 28 for Brian Wilson.

While Kimbrel was quite shaky early, blowing four of his first 15 opportunities, he’s currently converted nine in a row and 16 of his last 17.  He hasn’t even allowed a run since June 11, and his ERA is down to 2.40.

As long as he stays healthy, Kimbrel looks like a shoo-in to claim the NL saves record for a rookie, which has survived for 25 years since Todd Worrell saved 36 games for the Cardinals in 1986.  The major league record is 40, established by Neftali Feliz last season.

  1. dodger88 - Jul 7, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Make that 1986 for Worrell’s record……

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 7, 2011 at 5:18 PM

      2011-25… by golly, I think you’re right.


  2. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 7, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    The Braves better hope is arm doesn’t fall off.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 7, 2011 at 5:25 PM

      his not is…damn, where is that edit function I’ve been pining for.

  3. kopy - Jul 7, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    Is it fair to officially label him as a “proven closer” now?

  4. bigxrob - Jul 7, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Craig Calcaterra speaking about Craig Kimbrel “He’s so dreamy”*

    *May not be actual quote

  5. foreverchipper10 - Jul 7, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    At this rate he will blow past 40.

  6. bigleagues - Jul 8, 2011 at 2:46 AM


    Before we start proclaiming that Kimbrel is a shoo-in for the NL Rookie Saves record, shouldn’t we determine what does and doesn’t constitute a ‘league’ record.

    This is an issue – a major issue in a sport that is known for its number crunching and revered records – that those who blindly champion inter-league play as some great innovation of MLB conveniently forget or choose to overlook.

    In this sallow era know as Inter-league shouldn’t a National League or American League record be achieved solely against competition from within each respective league?

    Craig Kimbrel had 7 Saves against AL opponents this year. Which, of course, means that Kimbrel has just 20 Saves against NL opponents. Todd Worrell had 36 Saves – all against NL opponents.

    Surely we are not going to credit Craig Kimbrel with the NL Rookie Saves record unless he achieves an additional 17 Saves against NL opponents, are we?

    If you were to dig into the forensics on behalf of Kimbrel, I suppose you could argue that 3 of those 7 Saves vs. AL opponents occurred at Turner Field and thus under NL rules. I guess you could then knock it down to 14 Saves needed for the NL Rookie Saves record.

    One thing I do know, if Kimbrel finishes the season with 37 Saves total, then NO ONE should assert that he broke the NL Rookie Saves record, because he wouldn’t have.

    By a minimal rational standard Kimbrel needs at least 14 more Saves, and at most (NL only opponents) he would need 17 more Saves.

    • bengunby - Jul 8, 2011 at 1:50 PM

      Are you serious? Worrells NATIONAL LEAGUE team played 162 games, and he saved 36 games in those 162.

      If Kimbrel saves 37, it would mean his NATIONAL LEAGUE team played 162 games, and he saved 37 games in those 162.

      Who it’s against isn’t relevant. This is easily one of the most absurd arguments I have ever, in my life, seen.

      • bigleagues - Jul 8, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        Yes, I’m serious. And you, like so many CEO Selig knee-droppers, fail to grasp the concept.

        I’m willing to bet that you are either a Braves Fanboy or have Kimbrel on your fantasy team. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong about that.

        Worrell’s NATIONAL LEAGUE team played ONLY NATIONAL LEAGUE TEAMS. Therefore it’s a NATIONAL LEAGUE record.

        Since 1997, we have this atrocity called interleague play. NATIONAL LEAGUE teams no longer play ONLY NL teams.

        Kimbrel’s NATIONAL LEAGUE team plays 144 (minimum) or 147 or 150 (maximum) games against the NATIONAL LEAGUE, depending what year it is, the earths juxtaposition with Mars and whether or not Puxatawny Phil emerged from his hole.

        7 of Kimbrel’s Saves occurred against an AL opponent. You want to count his 3 Saves vs. AL opponents played at Turner Field. Fine I can buy that argument.

        BUT 4 of Kimbrel’s Saves came against AL opponents UNDER AL RULES. Those aren’t NL Saves, my friend.

        MLB likes to pretend this isn’t the case when it comes to league records, but like so many things that MLB has done under CEO Selig – it’s knee jerk and illogical.

        You can call it whatever you like. MLB can declare whatever it likes, but it doesn’t make the whole scenario any less logical. MLB can’t have it both ways.

        Once inter-league was wrought upon us (out of desperation in an attempt to regenerate fan interest after the ’94 strike, but you are likely to young to remember that or to have experienced the unique nature of distinct leagues), NL and AL records were neutered. They lost all meaning.

        Bottom line, once interleague began, for better or worse, MLB records were/are the only ones that matter. So as far as I’m concerned, either Kimbrel gets 41 Saves (to surpass Feliz’s MLB Rookie record) or Kimbrel has no record of significance.

      • thechopnation - Jul 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        I hope you’re happy bigleagues. I had to create a wordpress account just to reply to your post. lol

        I don’t see why you’re creating such a stink about this. Its as if you’re being pedantic for the mere purpose of flexing some sort of self-perceived intellectual muscle.

        Its really pretty simple. Craig Kimbrel pitches for a National League team. Craig Kimbrel therefore sets National League records. Regardless of who he is pitching against.

        If you want to get really anal, how can you compare any record whatsoever when ballparks and player skills change radically over the years? Heck, I think the wind was blowing in at the Ted last night. Perhaps we should note that in the record books too. Do you see what I’m saying here?

        There’s no need to be ridiculous. Kimbrel pitches for NL. Kimbrel makes NL record. Done. Don’t lose anymore sleep over it.

      • bigleagues - Jul 8, 2011 at 5:54 PM


        Welcome to the snakepit! :-)

        Look, I can appreciate that a Braves wants to see his player succeed. And I completely understand the excitement of your guy setting a record.

        But I don’t know how anyone can call something an NL record or an AL record if the games aren’t being played exclusively against AL or NL teams.

        This isn’t even an intellectual discussion – it’s a closed and shut case – except when MLB desperately imposed interleague play they issued a statement that league records would still exist – but didn’t offer any logic to support that position. In other words, we have interleague play, but were supposed to pretend that there isn’t interleague play when it comes to league records.

        Trust me, the only reason that MLB didn’t throw NL and AL league records out along with the most distinguishing characteristic of the sport vs other team sports (two independent leagues operating under one governing body) is for the marketing angle. I’ve sat in enough Winter Meetings marketing seminars to know there is a method to the madness. I just don’t agree with the method.

      • thechopnation - Jul 8, 2011 at 6:25 PM

        I understand your argument, I really do. I just thinks its a very unnecessary one to make. It seems to me that the only real consideration to take is how many games were played. I really don’t get the point of all the fuss as long as Kimbrel is setting his records for an MLB team against another MLB team in a season of proper length. And since he’s playing for an NL team…it’s an NL record. The logic suits me fine, even if its possible to make things more convoluted than that.

        Do we not count Michael Phelps’ records because he’s setting them in Beijing?

      • bigleagues - Jul 9, 2011 at 2:57 AM


        This is an issue that has had my panties in a bunch since the advent of interleague. It was discussed for about a week back in 1997 by ESPN and talk radio, then dropped – not because there isn’t a legit gripe with the way Selig dictated this policy of preserving league records even when they are challenged and ‘broken’ in the interleague era, but because we as fans really didn’t have say in the matter. Furthermore MLB’s moneybags partner, ESPN, is/was not about to make a stink about something they can get a lot of marketing play out of either.

        For the Phelps comparison to work he would have to be competing in Olympic competition and winning Gold Medals (or Saves for our purposes) and halfway through the Olympics, leave to compete in another competition running concurrent to the Olympics, win Gold medals at that competition, come back to finish the Olympics, winning more gold medals, then count up all the medals he won during both competitions and claim he won more Gold Medals during the course of the Olympic Games than any other individual.

        My point remains that once interleague play started, the AL and NL ceased to exist. That same year, the AL and NL Presidents and their offices were eliminated, the AL and NL baseballs were eliminated and replaced with only a MLB endorsed ball.

        And if CEO Selig has his way again, and chances are he will – the NL and AL will become the NC and the AC (National Conference and American Conference).

  7. bigleagues - Jul 8, 2011 at 3:03 AM

    Oh yeah, in case I didn’t make the point clear enough . . .

    The advent of Inter-league play in MLB rendered AL and NL league records virtually meaningless.

    The AL and NL before the CEO Selig Era was among the most unique and fascinating aspects of the sport. The CEO Selig will leave behind a legacy that ultimately will be remembered most for homogenizing the highest level of the sport and washing away the significance of a large part of 90+ years of its history.

    So yes, I for one, get very irritated when a contemporary player is said to have broken an NL or AL league record.

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