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.