Craig Kimbrel, Jeremy Hellickson named Rookies of the Year

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The official award season is upon us and the first announcement has been made: your 2011 Rookies of the Year are Craig Kimbrel in the NL and Jeremy Hellickson in the AL. Kimbrel was voted the award unanimously. Hellickson received 17 of the 28 first place votes.

Kimbrel seemed like a lock for some time.  Closing games is a high profile endeavor, and Kimbrel closed them like crazy.  He led the league with 46 saves, breaking Neftali Feliz’s record for rookies in the process.  A dominant force out of the pen in 2011, Kimbrel struck out 127 batters in 77 innings while only issuing 32 unintentional walks, for a K/BB ratio of 3.97. Therein lies the key to his success, as over the course of his minor league career he only stuck out 2.55 batters for every one he walked.

As for Hellickson, his 13 wins — five down the stretch as Tampa Bay made their improbable late drive for the AL Wild Card — and 2.95 ERA put him fairly easily past Mark Trumbo and Eric Hosmer.  He led all rookie pitchers in ERA, innings (189), starts (29) and opponents’ batting average (.210).

Finishing behind Kimbrel was his Braves teammate Freddie Freeman, then Vance Worley and Wilson Ramos.  Complete voting results can be found over at BBBWA.com.

Rangers will not exercise Mike Napoli’s 2018 option

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The Rangers have informed 1B/DH Mike Napoli the club will not exercise his 2018 option, worth $11 million, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Instead, the Rangers will pay Napoli $2.5 million to buy him out of his contract, making him a free agent.

Napoli, 35, hit a disappointing .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and 66 RBI in 485 plate appearances this past season. Given his age and declining production, it’s not shocking that the Rangers want to look elsewhere.

Napoli turns 36 at the end of the month. Given his age and worsening peripheral stats, he will likely have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.