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  1. Kimbrel was probably the best reliever in baseball a year ago. This season not only did he increase his already staggering K rate, but he did it while nearly halving his walk rate and increasing the amount of GBs he generated. Simply amazing.

    Comment by Preston — October 1, 2012 @ 9:22 am

  2. Is there an objective way of comparing his dominance in rate stats this year to 1999 Pedro? Or did I just commit heresy by bringing that up?

    Comment by TKDC — October 1, 2012 @ 10:11 am

  3. what a year to be a braves fan! between chipper’s historic final year, medlen’s emergence, heyward’s resurgence, and kimbrel’s ridiculosity, there’s a lot to be giddy about.

    Comment by midgley's folly — October 1, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  4. Craig Kimbrel has been incredible this season. He has anchored the best bullpen in MLB for the last two years. He literally changes the game. He is the Cy Young winner in my mind. Hands down.

    Comment by stupup74 — October 1, 2012 @ 10:56 am

  5. He’s not the Cy Young winner in my mind.

    Hands down.

    Comment by I Agree Guy — October 1, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  6. Yeah, if he had even thrown a lot of innings for a reliever, I’d say it’s a discussion worth having, but…

    Instead, I’ll just appreciate this wondrous season for its own sake.

    Comment by Anon21 — October 1, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  7. How come people never mention Dennis Eckersley’s 1990 when it comes to dominant reliever seasons anymore?
    WHIP 0.607
    SO/BB 73/4(!):
    ERA+: 603 (!!)

    Comment by hummbaby22 — October 1, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  8. He was the best reliever not named Sergio Romo a year ago. He is the best reliever this year.

    Comment by lonewolf — October 1, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  9. I wrote a blog post on Kimbrel as a rotation anchor for 2013. Check it out here. http://outliarbaseball.com/wp/the-transforming-power-of-craig-kimbrel/

    Comment by outliarbaseball.com — October 1, 2012 @ 11:53 am

  10. I disagree. Sergio Romo is eliminated from the discussion because the Giants insist upon using him as a ROOGY. In contrast, Kimbrel faces LH batters more than 50% of the time, and he’s even tougher against them.

    Comment by NeverJamToday — October 1, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  11. It was McDowell! But why? Why McDowell?

    Comment by TKY — October 1, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  12. I found this article very interesting, however you committed one of my biggest pet peeves from fantasy writers. You said:

    “He has also only walked 14 batters this season, which represents the third straight year in which his walk rate dropped. His walk rate was 18.2% in 2010, 10.5% last year, and now 6.2%”

    In fact, his walk rate has only dropped the last two years, from 2010 to 2011 and from 2011 to 2012, not the last three. I understand that three years gives the trend more credibility, but it’s false. Matthew Berry does this all the time and it bugs the heck out of me.

    I don’t mean to nitpick, I did enjoy the article. I was just wondering if others felt the same way about this issue.

    Comment by Matt — October 1, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  13. I’d much rather have 230 innings of RA Dickey than 60 innings of Kimbrel.

    Comment by vivalajeter — October 1, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  14. Considering that K rates have consistently gone up over time, it seems logical that Kimbrel’s K-rate should be compared relative to his peers rather than absolutely, with respect to history. Is Kimbrel’s K%+ better than Gagne’s K%+?? I’d bet they’re very close to similar, which makes Gagne’s season even that more impressive. I’d say the difference in WAR between the two seasons is justified.

    Comment by Nivra — October 1, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  15. i dont want to.

    Comment by Sleight of Hand Pro — October 1, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  16. I didn’t say categorically he was the best reliever. I said probably, he did lead in WAR. although the above article articulates why that is not the best metric for measuring a reliever. If there was one reliever who I would argue was better a year ago it was probably Mariano Rivera.

    Comment by Preston — October 1, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

  17. ill +1 any seinfeld reference.

    Comment by Sleight of Hand Pro — October 1, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  18. Based on the difference between K% and lgK% Kimbrel’s is 2% better, but it is a lot closer, like you said.

    Comment by Alex Kienholz — October 1, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  19. As a Braves fan I can’t help but wonder what kind of trade value Kimbrel would have this off season. Coming off a great season in 2011 and a historic season in 2012 his value could never be higher. He has no injury history and 3 more years of team control.

    I doubt Wren would move him under any circumstances but after seeing Venters regress so quckly it would make me sick to see it happen to Kimbrel.

    Comment by Neal — October 1, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  20. The most incredible stat I’ve heard all year in regards to Kimbrel is that he hasn’t allowed more than 1 hit in any of his 62 appearances. 26 hits scattered over 26 of his 62 games.

    Comment by GTW — October 1, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  21. That I can agree with.

    Comment by I Agree Guy — October 1, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  22. Given reliever year-to-year volatility, I think making Kimbrel available is absolutely the right move. But I think Wren would be crucified by the Atlanta sports media (such as it is) if he moved Kimbrel in anything other than a ludicrously favorable deal.

    Comment by Anon21 — October 1, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  23. http://koppettstown.com/2012/09/27/assessing-craig-kimbrels-validity-as-a-cy-young-candidate/
    Wrote a piece on Kimbrel’s cy young chances with historical comps and analysis

    Comment by Micah — October 1, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  24. Down with spam!

    Comment by Alex Kienholz — October 1, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

  25. He’s amazing at consistently hitting the lower right corner of the strike zone away from lefties. There is practically nothing a lefty can do against it except foul the pitch off, unless they want to completely sacrifice covering the inside half of the plate.

    I do think Brian McCann falls in love too much calling breaking balls with Kimbrel. Once in awhile from a game theory perspective, every pitch called in a at-bat should be a fastball.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — October 1, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  26. Micah your article is an example of both poor writing and poor analysis. Please don’t subject this site to your spam anymore.

    Comment by Stop — October 1, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

  27. Change years to seasons and quit whining

    Comment by Danish — October 1, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

  28. So would everyone else. Doesn’t mean he hasn’t been incredible and it doesn’t make this article any less interesting.

    Comment by nilbog44 — October 2, 2012 @ 12:09 am

  29. Still doesn’t work if you change it to seasons.

    Comment by bstar — October 2, 2012 @ 12:58 am

  30. Good point, hummbaby (is your name a reference to the late 80′s Roger Craig “hum, baby” Giants teams?).

    Kimbrel is on pace for setting records for all slash numbers against except OBP. Craig is at .185 for OBP but Eck put up years of .172 and .175 in 1990 and 1989 respectively. That’s what walking 7 batters in 130+ IP over two years will do for you.

    Kimbrel also is unlikely to touch Eck’s WHIP record for relievers that you cited.

    But he’s on top in everything else.

    Comment by bstar — October 2, 2012 @ 1:12 am

  31. Is the Cy Young award a Most Valuable Pitcher award? Or should it go to the best pitcher? You could very well come up with different answers to either question.

    Comment by bblackwell — October 2, 2012 @ 1:26 am

  32. I think the rate did drop from his 2009 minor league numbers. So technically I think the 3 years in a row is correct.

    Comment by bblackwell — October 2, 2012 @ 1:29 am

  33. Not sure I follow you.

    BB/9

    2010: 7
    2011: 3.7
    2012: 2.0

    Each year, is lower than the last. Three years included.

    Comment by JCS — October 2, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  34. It’s also worth noting, as these strikeout records get broken, that hitters as a whole are striking out at a greater rate than they ever have in history.

    For most of history the K/9 rate was around 3 to 5. The first time in history the K/9 hit 6.0 was in 1967. It didn’t happen again until 1987.

    Then starting in 1994, the K/9 was 6.2. Every year from 94 to ’08 the K/9 has been above 6.0. Then the K/9 hit 7.0 in 2009, 7.1 in 2010, 7.1 in 2011 and 7.6(!) this year.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/pitch.shtml

    Comment by glenstein — October 2, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  35. He’s saying it can’t have dropped for 3 straight years with one of those years serving as the start point.

    Comment by bblackwell — October 2, 2012 @ 10:38 am

  36. nilbog, I was responding to a poster who said that Kimbrel was a hands down CY Young winner. I wasn’t taking anything away from the article itself.

    Comment by vivalajeter — October 2, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  37. It’s incredible but it also shows how a dominant pitcher can be dominant for 1 inning. How many 2 inning appearances does he have?

    Comment by Dave G. — October 2, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  38. You should be enthused about Simmons as well.

    Comment by Manic McReynolds — October 2, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

  39. Just don’t walk around the locker room with a Q-tip in your ear Craig.

    Comment by iallm — October 3, 2012 @ 7:51 am

  40. One thing that never gets much publicity is that Kimbrel was mentored by Billy Wagner during his year with the Braves. He credits a lot of his improvement to Billy, and it’s hard not to give that theory at least a little credence. His control numbers improved dramatically immediately following that season (whereas his BB/9 numbers had been downright AWFUL at every level before).

    Just thought it was an interesting tidbit. Kimbrel is, after all, basically just Billy Wagner throwing with his right arm (and now better than Billy ever was).

    Comment by David — October 3, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  41. 14 players have posted a higher K% over a season than Kimbrel’s 50.2. The second and third highest TBFs are.. 23 and 11. K-Rod’s nickname-earning debut was the 23.

    Comment by Calvin — October 3, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  42. Matt’s right — it’s a very easy mistake to make. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Comment by Eric Seidman — October 3, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

  43. Obviously we were more interested in relatively meaningful samples here.

    Comment by Eric Seidman — October 3, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  44. Nilbog is goblin spelled backwards!!!

    Comment by yeah — October 3, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  45. Yes those 5 and 2 thirds innings really are relevant.

    Comment by yeah — October 3, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

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