Atlanta Braves: Is Craig Kimbrel Baseball's Top Closer?

Jason AmareldCorrespondent IIOctober 23, 2012

October 3, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) prepares to throw a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Atlanta Braves won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Atlanta Braves 24-year-old closer Craig Kimbrel led the National League in saves in 2012 and finished tied for third for the major league lead with with 42.

After two full seasons playing at the highest level of professional baseball, Kimbrel has earned the right to call him baseball's top closer and here is why.

After winning the 2011 Rookie of the Year Award, Kimbrel proved that the sophomore slump is only a myth. He finished 2012 with a 1.01 ERA in 62.2 IP. He also led all of Major League Baseball in K/9 at 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings and K/BB with 8.3 strikeouts per walk.

The most telling tale of what truly separates Kimbrel from the competition is his BAA (batting average against) and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) where he led the majors in both categories.

His WHIP in 2012 was 0.65, which was nearly half of his 1.05 WHIP he posted in 2011.

Kimbrel's BAA is an even more telling statistic of why he is the most dominant closer in all of baseball. In 2012, hitters only batted .126 off of Kimbrel in 215 at-bats. Giving up a measly 27 hits with only four of them being extra-base hits all season.

He also posted a reverse split in BAA this past season, where left-handed hitters only hit .116 and right-handed were slightly better hitting .135 off of the right-handed throwing Kimbrel.

Kimbrel's career is just getting started and he has already established himself as the most dominant closer in all of baseball. If he can continue to improve on his craft, the sky is the limit for Kimbrel.

Look for even bigger things from Kimbrel in 2013 and hopefully for Braves' fans he will continue his reign of dominance in the National League.