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  1. Great article. Kimbrel’s only real competition comes from his own teammate, Freddie Freeman.

    Comment by JT Grace — September 1, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  2. Like you said, Kimbrel should win the award based on his dominance over the NL and not just his gaudy saves total. Heck, I could not care less about the save total. If he had zero saves I’d still vote for him. He is 5th among all rookies in strikeouts and his K/9 rate is historically high and a rookie record (min 60 IP).

    Sad part is I though Espinosa had a great shot at winning around the AS break but he has tailed off completely.

    Comment by Jonathan C. Mitchell — September 1, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  3. Yes.

    Comment by Steve — September 1, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  4. What was the point of this article? I am pretty confident FG readers already worship WAR and hate Saves

    Comment by Bill but not Ted — September 1, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  5. You can’t ask “Who’s going to win an award?” and then only discuss one candidate.

    Comment by Hizouse — September 1, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  6. ^ What he said.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — September 1, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  7. One thing I find to be absolutely amazing about Kimbrel this year. He is on pace to have a season that exceeds (in terms of WAR) basically every season Mariano has ever had with the exception of 1996 when Mo wasn’t even being used as a closer and therefore pitched significantly more innings.

    Not only is Kimbrel having a great year for a rookie, he is having one of the best seasons in recent history for any relief pitcher.

    Comment by balagast — September 1, 2011 @ 9:26 am

  8. Um…



    Comment by Ryan — September 1, 2011 @ 9:26 am

  9. Did he ask that? It seems pretty clear from the title it’s an article about Kimbrel’s chances specifically. Am I missing something?

    Comment by Santos — September 1, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  10. You mention few rookies are thrust into the closer’s role because of a need for “closer’s mentality”? Then mention a half dozen rookies who have been ROY candidates in the last 7 or so years? I think it’s not that managers need a pitcher with a closer’s mentality, but instead might sometimes prefer the experienced arm over an unproven one. Obviously this is not happening all the time. Also, if you’re going to talk about Kimbrel’s candidacy, you HAVE to mention his scoreless streak and strikeouts as being exceptional feats he has accomplished this year. They put him ahead of Freeman in many people’s opinion, since Freeman is not hitting at an elite level for a 1B, but Kimbrel is doing things few relievers are doing, rookie or otherwise.

    Comment by DD — September 1, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  11. Santos – wouldn’t you agree that his chances are heavily dependent on what other candidates are doing this year, and the perception they have in the voters’ eyes?

    Comment by DD — September 1, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  12. I agree that Kimbrel should win the award. He has been downright amazing this season. However, I’m not sure why you waited until the last paragraph to mention than he leads NL rookies in WAR, never pointed out any of his ridiculous numbers other than saves, and failed to discuss his competition for the award (not that there’s much of it).

    Comment by Josh — September 1, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  13. Yeah I suppose I would agree with that. I guess Hizouse’s wording threw me off a bit. He stated “Who’s going to win an award” as if the article was to discuss everyone’s chances, when I read it as an article discussing Kimbrel’s chances with regard to previous closers winning the award. I guess Hizouse’s point, however, is inherent in any discussion like this since you really can’t decide if someone is worthy for something without comparing his performance to the other candidates.

    Comment by Santos — September 1, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  14. *Is* Craig Kimbrel the rookie of the year? Despite the article’s title, I still don’t know.

    Comment by hunterfan — September 1, 2011 @ 9:47 am

  15. He is dominating the NL in a way very few relief pitchers ever have before. He is leading all MLB reliever in WAR by a large margin. Not only will he win the ROY, he will pick up votes for the Cy Young and maybe even a few for MVP. He has been virtually unhittable for months.

    Comment by Dan — September 1, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  16. I would’ve thought Dillon Gee had a chance to win it in late July but fatigue/2-3 blowup starts has killed his ERA. He’d pretty much have to win his last 5 starts with a sub 3 ERA while Kimbrel regresses to have a legit shot.

    Comment by The Frankman — September 1, 2011 @ 9:58 am

  17. Jonny Venters’ year isn’t so bad either – just without the saves. If Fredi had switched the two at the start of the year, would it be Venters for ROY?

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — September 1, 2011 @ 9:58 am

  18. Absolutely it would. When has a middle reliever ever been considered for ROY, even if he had Kimbrel’s strikeout #’s?

    Comment by DD — September 1, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  19. No because Venters was up basically all of last year.

    Comment by Matt — September 1, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  20. If Venters wouldn’t have used up all his rookie eligibility the previous season, then yes he could be in consideration according to your scenario

    Comment by Justin — September 1, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  21. That’s because fWAR is FIP based and loves Kimbrel’s strikeouts. Mariano’s results have consistently been better than his FIP, which is why I prefer to use rWAR to evaluate him. By rWAR, Mariano had 4.8 WAR in 2004. Kimbrel has 3.0 rWAR this year.

    Comment by Andrew — September 1, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  22. Venters pitched 83 innings in 2010. Pretty sure he is not a rookie.

    Comment by Jonny's Bananas — September 1, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  23. I’m not sure if this has been mentioned, but I’m not a rookie.

    Comment by Jonny Venters — September 1, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  24. Hey Everyday Jonny, has your arm fallen off yet?

    Comment by Ramon Escalante — September 1, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  25. I don’t get why everyone gets behind pitchers for ROY but laughs them off for MVP. Shouldn’t this conversation be very similar to the Halladay vs Position Player MVP discussion we had last week? Where does this difference in mentality come from?

    Comment by brett — September 1, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  26. Hate to say it, but this article sucked.

    I came in expecting a debate on possible NL ROY candidates using the typical Fangraphs statistics and to come to the conclusion that even though he was a reliever (which the Fangraphs community knows is overrated) he has still been the best rookie iin the NL.

    I did not expect an argument based almost entirely on saves and no mention of other possible NL ROY this year. You cannot make a case for someone winning an award without mentioning or considering other people competing for the award. That’s simply idiotic.

    A rare swing and a miss by Fangraphs writers. Apparently Kimbrel is so good he is even making Frangraphs strike out.

    Comment by Tom — September 1, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  27. Because there’s no ancillary award for rookie pitchers like the Cy Young for most valuable pitchers. If there were, you’d probably have a similar debate.

    Comment by TomG — September 1, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  28. A more apt title for the article would be, “Is OK to get the right result for the wrong reasons?”

    Comment by subtle — September 1, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  29. The title of the article is “Is Craig Kimbrel the NL Rookie of the Year” and then the article is about Craig Kimbrel. I’m not sure how that’s misleading.

    Comment by subtle — September 1, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  30. You just hate historical narratives.

    Comment by cthabeerman — September 1, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  31. Only Freddie Freeman? Try Danny Espinosa.

    Comment by Nik — September 1, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  32. Why does rWAR evaluate him more accurately? I’m not saying it doesn’t, I am genuinely curious as to how they differ and why one would say Mo is more valuable.

    Comment by balagast — September 1, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  33. Kimbrel not only leads NL rookies in WAR, he leads ML relievers in WAR by almost a full win.

    Comment by derek — September 1, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  34. I’d be interested in reading an article about how Kimbrel’s 2011 season stacks up to other top relief pitcher seasons in the history of MLB, or at least over the past 25-30 years.

    Comment by Robbie G. — September 1, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  35. What about Edinson Volquez?

    Comment by Stringer Bell — September 1, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  36. Not sure how he plays into this discussion… If you’re thinking of Aroldis Chapman, he’s closer to being relevant. He’s having a pretty decent season, although his early season struggles pretty much have removed him from any consideration for ROY.

    Comment by Josh A — September 1, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  37. Espinosa has tailed off pretty significantly in the second half. And even though it’s unfair, the voters still use BA to judge players. So with Espinosa hitting .229, he’s probably getting left out of the conversation, even though he should be in the running.

    Comment by Dan — September 1, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  38. There’s a long running joke you’re missing here.

    Comment by Stringer Bell — September 1, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  39. Vance Worley

    By the end of the year he will be looking at 125-140 IP overall, and if he keeps up the production he will have lines extremely similar to those of teammates Halladay, Lee and Hamels.

    Its impossible to overlook

    Comment by SOB — September 1, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

  40. rWAR evaluates pitching past “performance” more accurately, because FIP is less indicative of actual runs allowed than ERA. (Though perhaps more predictive) fWAR is tethered to FIP, with its myriad issues.

    Comment by DbacksSkins — September 1, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  41. Absolutely no way. I guess he could climb into #2 with a 5-0 September with a sub-3 ERA (though I see no reason why that will happen). Vance Worley and Brandon Beachy have a better shot to move up. Honestly, 3rd place in the ROY voting is wide open, but Beachy could get it and give the Braves 1-2-3.

    1-2 is 90% or more Kimbrel and Freeman.

    Espinosa should get more consideration but .229 will hold him back.

    Comment by TK — September 1, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  42. Yeah, I agree. The discussion here seemed more like “Should we expect Kimbrel to win the award?” than it was, “Should we view Kimbrel as the best rookie of 2011?” I would have preferred to read that article.

    Comment by Bronnt — September 1, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  43. Sharks in the water….yeesh.
    Yeah, the guy made a boo-boo as to Venters status, but, as his name says, he’s well-beered, maybe that can be a good excuse for his faux paus.

    Comment by Andrew — September 1, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  44. I haven’t followed his season, so perhaps when you say “if he keeps up the production” you’re talking about recent trends rather than his whole season’s body of work. Assuming you’re not, though, this is pretty silly. His FIP and xFIP, while quite impressive for a rookie starter, aren’t in the same ballpark with Halladay, Hamels, and Lee. I’m not saying Worley should get no RoY consideration–he’s had a very good season in limited playing time, while Kimbrel has been elite in a full season of an intrinsically less valuable role. But either way you come down on that, there’s no basis for putting Worley in the conversation with the Phillies’ front 3.

    Comment by Anon21 — September 1, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  45. sure he would… if he hadn’t placed 8th in the voting last year

    Comment by jim — September 1, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  46. hey danny espinosa lovers, where did you all go?

    Comment by jim — September 1, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  47. Unless voters specifically argue that it was the saves and not the WAR that made them vote for Kimbo, how will we even know their motivations? If we’re just tossing out possibilities, I hope they vote for him because he deserves and not because he’s white. That would be wrong…

    Comment by Allan — September 1, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  48. @Dbacks … so does rWAR use ERA? If so I fail to see how you can possibly say that makes it more accurate than fWAR.

    Comment by balagast — September 1, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  49. Cory Luebke

    Comment by pickapeppa — September 1, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  50. @balagast
    it uses tRA

    Comment by jim — September 1, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  51. When mentioning the other three, I was referring to actual on field, ie more superficial, results (which is what these awards are generally decided on) rather then advanced sabermetric projection which gets its true value from predicting future production instead of telling people what actually did happen. Vance with a 9-1 record, the team being 14-2 when he starts and the miniscule 2.65 ERA is every bit as strong as the results the Phillies have gotten out of any of the other three. (and if he happens to keep up the recent trends you mention, you’re looking at about a 8.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, .65 HR/9 range pitcher over the last two months – which would match up very well with Halladay, Lee or Hamels)

    As far as the “limited playing time” compared to Kimbrel’s “full season”, you are right about it being roughly half a season to a year long gig. But you are also talking about a “limited playing time” of roughly 140 IP verses about 75 innings of full season because Kimbrel is a reliever. This difference will also likely play into the final month, where 2 poor outings can have a rather dramatic effect on Kimbrels superficial lines because of the limited amount of innings short guys see.

    No matter, I was saying a 10+W/1-3L, 2.5- range ERA rookie with about 140 innings on a championship caliper team is going to get a ton of vote attention here.

    Comment by SOB — September 1, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  52. False, it uses RA (Runs Allowed) and adjusts for a lot of factors, such as defense, opponent quality, leverage, etc.

    Comment by Toffer Peak — September 1, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  53. Stop it.

    Comment by Luke M — September 1, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  54. I’d love an article about the Rookie Trio of Braves. (Kimbrel, Freeman, Beachy)

    Comment by Matty Brown — September 1, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  55. No mention of the ridiculous K/9? Kimbrel has it “Without a doubt”. Can’t believe a topic was even made.

    Comment by Josh — September 1, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

  56. What is the record for K or K/9 for a rookie RP? CK is in Wagner territory with those Ks (a comparable pitcher Kimbrel is often mentioned as the RH version of.)

    Comment by Josh — September 1, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  57. This is a pretty weak article. How can you talk about a player’s chances of winning an award without even mentioning the competition?

    Comment by Jeff G. — September 1, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

  58. My favorite Braves relief dominance factoids:

    1) Kimbrel has the lowest ERA of any pitcher to ever pitch 85 career innings. The second lowest? Jonny Venters.

    2) Of NL relievers with 55 innings, Venters, EOF, Kimbrel

    Comment by JMS — September 1, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

  59. rank 1-2-3 in era

    Comment by JMS — September 1, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  60. we still love him.

    Comment by Steve — September 1, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  61. 14 per 9 innings. Hasn’t allowed a run since June 11th spanning 33.2IP with 59K 10BB allowing only 12 hits. Sit back and breathe that in.

    Comment by Josh — September 1, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

  62. “Vance” should only win awards for best animal performance opposite PeeWee Herman in a movie about traveling circuses.

    Comment by Nick44 — September 1, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  63. That’s just it, there is no competition. Call me a homer, or whatever you wish, heck call it a prognostication, no contest.

    Comment by Josh — September 1, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  64. Bump that K/9 to 15 after striking out the side for #42 tonight.

    Comment by Josh — September 1, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

  65. Here are the nine 3.7+ WAR (according to Fangraphs’ metrics) seasons over the past 25 years (1987-present):

    4.5 Eric Gagne 2003
    4.4 Mariano Rivera 1996
    4.4 Rob Dibble 1990
    4.1 Duane Ward 1991
    4.0 Francisco Rodriguez 2004
    3.9 Doug Jones 1988
    3.8 Brad Lidge 2004
    3.7 Rob Dibble 1989
    3.7 Tom Henke 1989

    Looks like Craig Kimbrel has a pretty good shot at joining that list. Shorten the list to 3.7+ WAR seasons over the past 15 years (1997-present) and you’re left with only Gagne, Rodriguez, and Lidge. Pretty impressive company for this kid; I’d say he’s the Rookie of the Year, alright.

    Nice to see Dibble’s dominance properly quantified. When I was really into baseball stats in high school, I remember thinking that Dibble was insanely underappreciated. This was before everybody realized that the save was a pretty arbitrary and therefore worthless statistic. Dibble was, of course, the setup guy for those Reds teams. I used to watch this guy pitch when he was with the Nashville Sounds. At the end of the game, after yet another save, he’d turn around, face the outfield, and throw the ball toward the outfield and clear out of the stadium. Dude was a lunatic!

    Comment by Robbie G. — September 1, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

  66. I had a huge problem with Neftali Feliz winning the award.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — September 2, 2011 @ 7:57 am

  67. So is Antonio Bastardo in Philly…

    .112 BAA (best in history for a pitcher with 50 IP)
    .418 OPS against (4th best in history for a pitcher with 50 IP)

    Comment by NEPP — September 2, 2011 @ 10:20 am

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