Monday, March 4, 2013

2012 Opening Day Craig Kimbrel

Following yesterday's post, today's card is another "rookie" who led the league with Craig Kimbrel. Why is rookie is quotation marks you ask?

In 2011, he tied for the National League lead in Saves and set an MLB record for most Saves by a rookie. Technically, by league rules, he was a still considered a rookie for the 2011 season.

However, in 2010, Kimbrel pitched 20.2 innings in 21 games for the Braves. On one hand, that doesn't sound like a whole lot but according to his Baseball-Reference page, Kimbrel pitched in 4 games in May, 4 games in June, 1 in August and 12 in September. Obviously I don't make the rules but in my opinion, that constitutes a season.

I understand the rules help September call-ups maintain eligibility and the 50 inning restriction would be tough to meet in that final month of the season. Theoretically, Kimbrel could have led the league in Saves with his less than one inning per appearance ratio and still be under the 50 inning count limit. Highly unlikely, but not impossible...

Enough on the negatives though because what Kimbrel did in 2011, was pretty amazing. When Kimbrel was born in 1988, 46 saves in a season was the Major League record, done by Dave Righetti in 1986. And Kimbrel did that as a rookie, tying Milwaukee closer John Axford for the National League lead and just 3 short of Major League leader, Detroit's Jose Valverde.

Kimbrel parlayed his record setting perfromance in the 2011 Naltional League Rookie of the Year Award as well as earning the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy on his card in 2012.

Rookie Saves Record:

1. Craig Kimbrel - 46 (2011)
2. Neftali Perez - 40 (2010)
3. Kazahiro Sasaki - 37 (2000)
4. Todd Worrell - 36 (1986)
5. Jonathan Papelbon - 35 (2006)

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