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Craig Kimbrel notches 41st save, sets MLB rookie record

Aug 31, 2011, 11:07 PM EDT

kimbrel getty Getty Images

Congratulations are in order for Craig Kimbrel.

According to beat writer Chris Cox of MLB.com, the hard-throwing rookie closer recorded his 41st save of the season in Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over the Nationals, setting a major league rookie record.

Rangers closer Neftali Feliz tallied 40 saves in 2010 as a rookie. Kazuhiro Sasaki, who had 37 saves in 2000 for the Mariners, held the mark before that.

Kimbrel, 23, boasts a sparkling 1.64 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 107/25 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings this season. He hasn’t allowed a run — earned or unearned — since July 11 and hasn’t blown a save since June 8.

Barring a September collapse, Kimbrel looks to be favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year award. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, owner of an .819 OPS, should also draw a good amount of votes.

  1. stratomaticfan - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    It’s a nice story…but WHO CARES? The save is the most worthless stat in all of baseball. Did K-Rod’s 70+ saves make him a great closer? No. Getting 3 outs in a 3 run ball game with nobody on base is so totally over-rated. Give me the old time relievers who came in with runners on and shut the door.

    • bigleagues - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:24 AM

      Methinks Stratomatic fan is romanticizing the “old time” relievers just a tad. But that’s OK, cuz I remember when being a “pinch hitter” was basically a roster slot. Rusty Staub, Reid Nichols, Lenny Harris come to mind. and how many people know that Matt Stairs retired with the Major League record for most career pinch hit Home Runs?!

      My point is you have to be reallllly adequate to be a pinch hitting great. Just like being a reliever or closer . . . you have to be a realllllly reallly adequate Pitcher to earn Bullpen duty. Not simply good, or great, but adequate. And it doesn’t matter if you are a reliever today or 50 years ago. Most guys that find themselves in the BP simply weren’t going to be good Starting Pitchers. But they were adequate enough for 1, 2 or even 3 Innings to pitch from the Bullpen.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Sep 1, 2011 at 1:08 AM

        I think you’re off-base here, “big leaugues,” Old time relievers would regularly pick up the last 20-22 outs of a game as recently as the 70’s.

      • Kevin S. - Sep 1, 2011 at 8:39 AM

        They’d pick up the last 6-7 innings of a game regularly?

      • 14thinningstretch - Sep 1, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        I don’t know about “regularly”, but it did happen. Mike Marshall went 6 innings once in 1974, John Hiller had two appearances of 7.2 innings that year, Rich Gossage went more than 7 IP three times in 1975, etc.

    • bullsfan93 - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      @stratomaticfan lets see you try to pitch 41 saves

  2. bigleagues - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    I agree that the Save is an over-rated stat. In fact, I think the rules that define a Save are in dire need of revision. A “Save” should involve runners in scoring position and the lead being in imminent danger of being tied tied or surrendered. Anything else is a lark. And if walks like a lark and talks like a lark, its probably a lark.

    That said, the MLB record is really the only one that matters anymore since inter-league has completely blurred the lines of what constitutes a “league record”.

    • bigleagues - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:32 AM

      And Drew Silva, remind me again why Kimbrel’s the leader for NL ROY?

      Isn’t Freddie Freeman’s contributions and year a little more (OK, to me and many people A LOT more) impressive than a hard thrower compiling Saves 1-Inning at a time?

      • Drew Silva - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:51 AM

        Most times I’d agree — closers are overrated and position players tend to have more impact — but it’s not like Freeman has set the world on fire. He had a slow first-half. Kimbrel’s been absolutely dominant.

        Kimbrel fWAR: 3.2
        Freeman fWAR: 1.4

      • bigleagues - Sep 1, 2011 at 1:45 AM

        Drew Silva:

        I’ll buy that. I know Kimbrel has been dominant in that role, but I should have looked the numbers before I posted.

        Speaking of that, going by WAR Freeman really isn’t in the discussion. Espinosa is the leading position player (3.0).

        And in the AL is there a faster mover than Desmond Jennings who has a 2.3 through 36 Games (tied with Trumbo and just behind Ackley at 2.5)? What is Jennings keeps up something close to this torrid pace, ends up with something like 3.5-4.0 in less than 70 Games. Can the voters ignore him? They probably will, but I say NO.

      • Drew Silva - Sep 1, 2011 at 2:46 AM

        Yeah, both Jennings and Dustin Ackley are fast-risers. But I think it has to be either Michael Pineda or Jeremy Hellickson. Both high-impact, 150-plus inning starters.

  3. rollinghighwayblues - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    So when does the inevitable discussion of him being put in the rotation start?

    • Drew Silva - Sep 1, 2011 at 12:55 AM

      He didn’t start a game during his time in the minors (2008-2010), so it’s probably already been determined that his arm and arsenal aren’t fit for starting duties. Plus, the Braves have quite a bit of young and talented rotation depth as it is.

      • rollinghighwayblues - Sep 1, 2011 at 1:27 AM

        Thanks for clearing that up, Drew. I just figured someone in the near future would compare him to Neftali Feliz and that whole starting rotation debacle but I guess Feliz started 54 games in 80 career minor league games.

  4. paperlions - Sep 1, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    Hey, any time a guy breaks a 1-yr old record, that must be a truly rare feat.

  5. Kevin S. - Sep 1, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Saves may be over rated, but Kimbrel does well in SD/MD as well.

  6. stratomaticfan - Sep 2, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    I’m not disputing that he’s pitched well and has been having a great run. I just can’t get excited about a record for a stat that pumps up relievers to be more than they may be. Because of the idiocy of the save rule, great relievers and mediocre relievers can put up big numbers at the same time….prime example was Joe Borowski for the Indians in 2007….basically a mediocre pitcher…..they used to say….”He doesn’t get all the outs, just the last out.” He could turn the “save situation” game into a 1 run game more often than not, yet get the last out and still win…..can you compare him to a guy like Mo’ Rivera who used to rarely give up hits (or walks) yet get fewer “saves” per year?

  7. nicosamuelson2 - Sep 2, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Kimbrel should be considered for the Cy Young Award. ;)

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