The Game: Baseball
2017 Pre-Season Projections
2017 600 PA / 200 IP Projections
2017 Updated In-Season Projections
Ottoneu Fantasy Baseball
Win Probability & Box Scores
2017 Projected Standings
2016 Playoff Odds
Playoff Odds Graphs
2017 Free Agent Tracker!
Minor League Leaders
Combined WAR Leaderboards
League Average Heatmaps
Team Batting Stats
Team Pitching Stats
Team WAR Totals (RoS)
Team Depth Charts
Positional Depth Charts
K% & BB%
K/9 & BB/9
TZ & TZL
Park Factors by Handedness
Help Support FanGraphs
Become a Member
Already a member?
5/28/1988 (28 y, 8 m, 29 d)
2008 June Amateur Draft - Round: 3, Pick: 19, Overall: 96, Team: Atlanta Braves
$42M / 4 Years (2014 - 2017) + 1 Option Years
80 / 80
70 / 70
50 / 50
Kimbrel has been asked by the Red Sox to focus heavily on improving his command this spring, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Boston's closer walked 5.1 batters per nine innings in 2016. (2/16/2017)
Sunday Notes: Montgomery, Giants Pitching, Devers,»
David Laurila (FanGraphs)
Early ADP Thoughts – Relief Pitcher Pt. 1
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
The 2017 Free Agents Who Could Have Been
Neil Weinberg (FanGraphs)
MASH Report (7/12/16)
Jeff Zimmerman (RotoGraphs)
Craig Kimbrel Showed a Changeup
Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a great slider, Kimbrel goes to war with wicked stuff and little idea where it's going most days. In his debut, he showed a Marmol-ian (and debut record) 17.42 K/9 as well as a 6.97 BB/9, and that's right in line with his double-digit strikeout rates in the minor leagues (and poor walk rates as well). It might make for some Maalox days in the bullpen in Atlanta, but the strikeout punch should erase some mistakes. The news is that the Braves will platoon Kimbrel with lefty Johnny Venters, but Kimbrel's platoon splits aren't terrible and the best money is on him winning the role outright by the end of the year. (Eno Sarris)
The Quick Opinion:
He may be starting the year in a platoon with Johnny Venters, and he may have some control issues, but Kimbrel's strikeout punch is so elite that he'll probably take full control of the closer's role by the end of the year. Expect walks and strikeouts, lots of them.
Kimbrel went from hotshot rookie to the best reliever in baseball last season, regardless of whether your you're talking fantasy value or real life value. His long track record of missing bats resulted in a Marmolian 14.84 strikeout rate, and he was so tough to hit that his WHIP (1.04) nearly ducked under 1.00 despite a pretty unimpressive 3.74 walk rate. The concern here is Kimbrel's 2011 workload, as Fredi Gonzalez wore him out in the first half and saw him fade in September. Kimbrel appeared in 79 games (second most in MLB) and threw 77 innings (ninth most) last season, which is the biggest workload of his career. He's young (23), so there's a chance he'll just shake off all that work during the winter, but there's also a chance that the workload has a carryover affect in 2012 and impacts his performance. Value him as a top closer because he is one, but Kimbrel isn't exactly risk free. (Mike Axisa)
The Quick Opinion:
A heavy 2011 workload is the only thing you reason you have to worry about the super-high strikeout Kimbrel, though that's a pretty significant concern. He's an elite closer but also not the surest of bets given the way he faded down the stretch last year under all those innings and appearances.
No reliever has been as good as Craig Kimbrel since he entered the league late in the 2010 season. He took his performance to an even higher level after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2011, with a 1.01 ERA and mind boggling 0.68 SIERA as Fredi Gonzalez lowered his workload from 77 innings to 62.2. Kimbrel's strikeout rate bumped up almost 10% and his walk rate was nearly cut in half, as the fireballer saved 42 games in 45 opportunities. The stellar season allowed him to finish fifth in Cy Young balloting and eighth in MVP voting. While his season was certainly one for the ages, it is difficult to expect him to improve on those numbers. Even so, Kimbrel should be in for another dominant season as the ninth inning man for an expected playoff contender, and his strikeout rate is so dominant that he can far outpace any other reliever -- especially now that Aroldis Chapman is making a bid for the starting rotation. (Ben Duronio)
The Quick Opinion:
While drafting Kimbrel means you're taking the first closer off the board, it is hard to be upset with taking a reliable and dominant closer relatively early. His raw strikeout totals of 127 and 116 provide excess value along with his other worldly ERA and WHIP. While the main reason you are drafting him is for 40+ saves, the extras make him a worthwhile target on draft day even with the expensive cost.
Kimbrel was once again all kinds of fantastic in 2013, including a 48-appearance stretch in the middle of the season where he allowed only one run. He posted a 13.16 strikeout rate and 13.6% whiff rate, but the funny thing is that those superlative rates are MUCH worse than his 2012 numbers. He struck out over half of batters in 2012 and that rate dropped 12% to 38% last season. That's still tied for the fourth-best rate with standout reliever Kenley Jansen. Kimbrel remains a hyper-elite reliever -- one of the best to ever grace the playing field so far -- and his abilities allow him to strand over 90% of his base runners. He's entering his age-26 season and has been healthy throughout his career, so he's not any more of an injury risk than any other reliever who throws 97 mph with a curve ball that he uses 30 percent of the time. (Brad Johnson)
The Quick Opinion:
It's hard to aptly describe just how good Kimbrel has been in his young career. 2013 continued that trend, even if his peripherals declined from ungodly to merely elite. Relievers who rely on elite velocity and lots of breaking balls are a health concern long term, but he's still young and injury free, so fantasy owners shouldn't worry too much.
... and make that three straight seasons of 40+ saves and an ERA under two. The best closer in baseball continued his domination and made fantasy owners who were willing to draft the first closer off the board happy about their decision. The top player at his position is always going to be expensive, and if you are contemplating drafting Kimbrel, you know you will be paying a hefty premium for his services. However, there are strategies out there that include ensuring you have a guy like Kimbrel and other elite closers. Waiting on starting pitching was an effective strategy last year if you made sure to have top tier closers, for example. The only qualm with drafting Kimbrel this year is the expectation of how poor the Braves team will play next season. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are gone, and there may be more deals made that may weaken both the team's offense and defense in the short term. Even so, the lack of talent on the team should not deter you too much from drafting the game's premier ninth inning man. He will still get plenty of opportunities and he will still strike out a ton of batters. Draft him with confidence if you are willing to pay the price. (Ben Duronio)
The Quick Opinion:
Craig Kimbrel dominated again last season and should be expected to do the same in 2015. There is a bit of worry that the Braves will be a much worse team next year, but that should not deter you from drafting a sure thing like Kimbrel.
FanGraphs usually removes scouting scores for pitchers shortly after they debut, so I'm glad to see we've retained Craig Kimbrel's scouting scores for posterity. An 80/80 fastball, a 70/70 curve... true things of beauty. But I digress. One might think there's cause for concern regarding Kimbrel's 2015 campaign, during which he posted his worst strikeout rate, highest ERA, FIP, and home run per fly ball rate. The last two years, hitters have tightened up their approaches, swinging more at pitches in the zone (with improved contact) while chasing less often. His overall rate of strikes dipped below 64% for the first time since his half-season debut in 2010, not boding well for his recently-elevated walk rate and making his high rate of swinging strikes a little misleading. Still, there's generally little need to worry: an ocular pat-down of Kimbrel's hard-hit rate seems to indicate his inflated HR/FB is just bad luck (the baseball gods making up for his very low rate in 2014, perhaps), and his velocity has actually increased every season, quelling fears normally associated with losing juice. Simply put, the book is out and Kimbrel -- has been for a while -- and lefties seem to be making adjustments. Kimbrel should be much more valuable closing for a Boston Red Sox team that, per Steamer, projects atop in the American League. The tier of elite closers has grown recently, but Kimbrel remains a respectable choice anywhere in the position's top five -- especially with Aroldis Chapman's fate in question. (Alex Chamberlain)
The Quick Opinion:
Craig Kimbrel suffered the misfortunes of bad luck on home runs and having to close out games for a disappointing Padres squad in 2015. He's poised for a rebound and should see added value with the Red Sox, making him a respectable pick anywhere among the top five closers.
If you would like to make a projection for this player, please
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2017 3:34 AM ET
Terms of Service
All major league baseball data including pitch type, velocity, batted ball location, and play-by-play data provided by Baseball Info Solutions.
All UZR (ultimate zone rating) calculations are provided courtesy of Mitchel Lichtman.
FOX Sports Engage Network Partner
All Win Expectancy, Leverage Index, Run Expectancy, and Fans Scouting Report data licenced from TangoTiger.com
All minor league baseball data provided by Major League Baseball Advanced Media as distributed by STATS.
Play-by-play data prior to 2002 was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.