Is Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves the Most Intimidating Closer in the MLB?

Daniel Kock@@dannykockContributor IIIJuly 25, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 22:  Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning of the interleague game against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park on June 22, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Craig Kimbrel has transformed himself from a really good closer into an elite closer in just his second year in the major leagues.

And now, he should be considered the most intimidating closer in the game.

The closer position is in a transitional period. Veteran closer Mariano Rivera is hurt, while Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner have retired.

Kimbrel, Joel Hanrahan, Aroldis Chapman, Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney have established themselves as the top closers in the game today.

However, Kimbrel has the edge over all these guys as the most intimidating.

Kimbrel's numbers are nothing short of dominant: He's posted a 1.42 ERA with 29 saves and 65 strikeouts in 39 innings.

That combined with just two blown saves and 10 walks demonstrates his near-perfect season out of the bullpen.

His 28 saves are tied for the most in the National League with Hanrahan and trail Johnson by two saves for the major league lead.

However, Kimbrel's ERA is a full run better than Johnson's, and Hanrahan has blown more saves than Kimbrel.

Rodney has the best ERA among closers at 0.82, but Kimbrel bests Rodney in opponent batting average, WHIP and strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Kimbrel's main competition for the most intimidating closer is Chapman, who has also been dominant since taking over the closer position.

Chapman boasts a ridiculous 16.9 strikeouts per nine innings, and opponents are hitting just .115 off him.

However, Kimbrel trumps him in WHIP, ERA, saves, save percentage and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Kimbrel's numbers across the board are the best overall, while the other top closers all have categories in which they have significant disadvantages.

What makes Kimbrel so effective is the stuff he possesses on the mound. He is a two-pitch pitcher—fastball and slider.

His fastball routinely is in the upper 90s and can touch triple digits, if needed. His slider has a sharp downward bite that disappears from hitters. His slider has a 10-15 mph difference from his fastball, which makes it nearly impossible for hitters to connect with while sitting on his blazing fastball.

Before Kimbrel launches he appears to hover over the hitter while awaiting the sign from his catcher.

He leaves both arms hanging down in an awkward stance and then jumps at the hitter as he delivers the pitch.

This makes it downright scary for right-handers and left-handers alike to face him.

His numbers are scary good this year, and his stuff defines nasty.

National League hitters will be fearing this guy for the next decade. He's got everything you need to be the best.

The scary thing is that he's already the most intimidating closer in the game in just his second year.