Braves closer Craig Kimbrel won the Sporting News’ National League Rookie of the Year award, the second in a row for an Atlanta player. Right fielder Jason Heyward won the Sporting News award in 2010.
The Baseball Writers Association of America will name its NL and AL rookies of the year on Nov. 14, widely recognized as the “official” rookies of the year. In 2010, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey edged out Heyward for the BBWAA award.
The BBWAA and Sporting News have differed on NL rookie award winners in three of the past five seasons. Balloting for the Sporting News award was by 112 NL players this year, and only the winner was named, not the runner-up or others receiving votes.
Kimbrel and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman are considered favorites for the BBWAA award. Voting by writers was completed before the postseason began.
Kimbrel, 23, tied for the NL lead with 46 saves in 54 opportunities, breaking the major league rookie saves record. He was 4-3 with a 2.10 ERA and led major league relievers in strikeouts by a wide margin with 127 K’s in 77 innings.
The Alabama native’s otherwise sensational season was marred by a rough September and a blown save in the final game, a 13-inning loss against Philadelphia that kept the Braves from playing St. Louis in a one-game tiebreaker for the wild card.
Kimbrel converted 25 consecutive save opportunities during 38 consecutive scoreless appearances from June 14 to Sept. 8, a stretch of 37-2/3 innings that was the majors’ longest scoreless streak in 2011.
After Sept. 8, he was 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in eight appearances and blew three of six save opportunities.