Among the many feats accomplished by Craig Kimbrel in 2011 was breaking a National League record held by a Cardinal for 25 years.
Kimbrel, the right-handed closer for the Braves, receives my nomination for the Willie Mays Award presented by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance to the top rookie in the National League.
Bloggers representing each NL franchise will vote for the Willie Mays Award. My vote is for the United Cardinal Bloggers.
Results of balloting for the Willie Mays Award will be announced by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance Oct. 13.
(Updated Oct. 13: Kimbrel won the Willie Mays Award. He received 11 of 16 first-place votes for 65 points _ 30 more than the runner-up, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman).
Voters are required to list three rookies on the Willie Mays Award ballot. Here, in order, starting with the top pick, are the rookies who received my votes:
CRAIG KIMBREL, Braves reliever
_ 2011 Statistics: 4-3 with a 2.10 ERA and 46 saves.
_ Top achievements: Shattered the NL rookie saves record of 36 held by Todd Worrell of the 1986 Cardinals, and broke the major league rookie saves record of 40 held by Neftali Feliz of the 2010 Rangers.
_ Fantastic fact: In 25 games combined in July and August, allowed no runs in earning 18 saves and striking out 42 in 24.2 innings.
Kimbrel faded in September (4.76 ERA in 12 games) as the Braves lost a large lead in the wild-card race and were caught by the Cardinals on the last night of the regular season. But the poor month doesn’t overshadow a dominating season.
Overall, Kimbrel struck out 127 in 77 innings and he held opponents to a .178 batting average (8-for-45) with runners in scoring position. In the 46 games he saved, he yielded no runs in 45 innings and struck out 76.
FREDDIE FREEMAN, Braves first baseman
_ 2011 Statistics: .282 batting average, 32 doubles, 21 home runs, 76 RBI.
_ Top achievement: .996 fielding percentage was just behind the .997 posted by the Rockies’ Todd Helton, the NL leader among first basemen.
_ Fantastic fact: Batted .281 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
DANNY ESPINOSA, Nationals second baseman
_ 2011 Statistics: .236 batting average, 29 doubles, 21 home runs, 66 RBI.
_ Top achievement: 464 assists ranked second in the NL, two behind NL leader Omar Infante of the Marlins.
_ Fantastic fact: Tied with Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks for the NL lead in most times hit by a pitch (19).