Blog Entry

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:09 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:40 pm
Hellickson, Kimbrel

By Evan Brunell

While the NL was saturated with quality rookies, there was one clear candidate that stood out: closer Craig Kimbrel.

On Monday, Kimbrel's excellent season was recognized as he was named NL Rookie of the Year. Over in the American League, Jeremy Hellickson took home the award.

Rookie of the Year
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
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Kimbrel's 46 saves blew past the previous rookie record for saves, set by Neftali Feliz in 2010 with 40 saves. While Kimbrel was lucky enough to both hold off and benefit from dominant setup man Johnny Venters, he was wholly deserving of the award. The righty struck out an incredible 127 batters in 77 innings, posting a 2.10 ERA.

The 23-year-old beat out two of his teammates in first baseman Freddie Freeman and starter Brandon Beachy for the honors. He also had to hold off Phillies starter Vance Worley and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa. The last time an Atlanta player won Rookie of the Year was in 2000, when Rafael Furcal took home the win.

Kimbrel's victory was historic, as he paired with Freeman to finish 1-2 in the voting. It's the first time since 1989 that a team was represented with the top two finishers. The Cubs' Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith were the last to accomplish the feat, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Not just that, but Kimbrel won unanimously, handing him the first unanimous vote since Albert Pujols' victory in 2001.

Hellickson, who now pairs with teammate Evan Longoria (2008) as the only Rays to win the award, entered the season with high expectations. Tampa Bay dealt away top pitcher Matt Garza in anticipation of Hellickson stepping in seamlessly, which he certainly did. In 29 starts, he posted a 2.95 ERA. He was actually very lucky, as he struck out just 117 and walked 72, but the Rays' dazzling defense behind him didn't disappoint. Hellickson gave up just 22.1 percent of all batted balls for hits, which is remarkably below the league average of 29 to 30 percent.

But while Hellickson's peripherals pointed to a poorer season than it may have otherwise appeared, the righty still put up remarkable numbers and is poised to break out into an ace in the coming seasons. If Tampa Bay had an average defense, Hellickson probably falls out of the top spot for the award, but it's not as if Hellickson's luck wasn't deserved. He led all rookies in innings pitched and some credit for his BABIP luck has to be attributed to Hellickson, who had the lowest opponent batting average among all rookies as well.

Hellickson beat out Mariners starter Michael Pineda and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer for the honor. His closest competition was Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo, who received five first-place votes. Hosmer received four, with Ivan Nova of the Yankees taking home one along with Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley.

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Since: Jun 16, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:42 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

Kimbrel is one of the most deserving ROYs in a long time.  Kid has great stuff and was maybe the best at his position in the NL.  Hellickson has great stuff too, but wasn't as deserving.  I would have picked Trumbo over him and maybe Nova.  Hellboy won because of his minor league creds/resume and a solid rookie campaign NOT a dominant one.  Kimbrel is a top 3 closer while Hellickson is a top 50 SP, maybe.  Trumbo is top 10-15 at 1B next year.  As with all awards - whatever, they really don't mean a thing.  Congrats to both of them.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:25 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

Not for nothing...Ivan Nova has better 'stuff' than Hellickson, and really had better numbers overall than the Rays starter.  The anti-NY National Press vote once again 'screwed' a worthy candidate.  Add to that Joe Girardi and brass who sent Nova down to AAA in the middle of the year despite an ongoing winning streak!  Of course, they screwed CC out of any chance at a CY Young award too when in early July they decided to go to a 6 man rotation...completely screwing up CC's fastball and changeup command and costing him several starts overall.  At the time, CC had a small 'leg-up' on Verlander, believe it not!  Check out the numbers mid-season and you'll see what I mean.

That said, I probably would have voted for Trumbo.  Any rookie that puts up those kind of power numbers deserves the nod.

I would have had Nova second...Hellickson third...Hosmer and Pineda 4th, 5th in whatever order.

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:03 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

Hellickson throws low strikes and throws a ton of low changeups which yield weak ground balls. He is doing in the MLB what he did in the Minor leagues two years in a row. Two years straight taking home the best pitcher award in the minors. His success in the MLB has very little to do with fielding support.

Since: Aug 29, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:06 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

Deserving on both parts. I think it's unfair though how CBS goes on about how "lucky" Hellickson was, and they talk about him as if he's a bad pitcher who just happens to to have a fantastic BABIP. Theres a reason he has such a good BABIP, and i think it's because the way he drops his arm at during his motion makes it hard for hitters to pick up the changeup so they roll over it and hit it weakly, or they have to cheat to hit the change and if they get the fastball end up popping it up. You may call Hellickson "lucky", but i think he's going to remain "lucky" and i don't see that BABIP rising too much over the next few years. Look for him to become and ace - or at least a top #2 for any team in the years to come.

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 3:14 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

dont forget he was sent down to make room for Hughes to comeback up, Nova had options left they would have had to "designate for assignment" Colon or Garcia to make room for Hughes and keep Nova up.

Since: Apr 6, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 3:08 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

I think the NL award was no contest, and rightfully so. Some of the other players that got second or third place votes deserved them, but Kimbrel was the obvious Top Pick.

Since: Mar 21, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:49 pm

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

I have no problems with these choices for Rookies of the Year, especially Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves who was just Dominant (please note the capital "D").
As far as the American League selection goes you can't knock the selection of Jeremy Hellickson. And before my fellow Yankees fans get on here and talk about Ivan Nova you have to keep one thing in mind: Nova was sent down to the minors during the course of the season. So as impressive as he was this season for us, being sent down to the minors during the course of the season does not look good to voters for the most part.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or