Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel wished he could have accepted his award on Wednesday in uniform, the way his American League counterpart, Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals, did.
While Kimbrel’s season is over, Holland’s team is playing in the World Series. Kimbrel was presented the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award and Holland received the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award before Game 2 of the World Series between the Royals and the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m a little jealous,” Kimbrel said. “He gets to wear his uniform right now.”
Kimbrel went to Lee High School in Huntsville before playing at Wallace State in Hanceville.
Kimbrel led the National League with 47 saves during the 2014 season. He had a 1.61 earned-run average and struck out 95 batters in 61.2 innings. He gave up 30 hits and 26 walks.
The awards were presented for the first time this year. The award winners were chosen by nine top relievers from baseball’s past, including the namesakes for the awards. The four living Hall of Fame relief pitchers – Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Finger, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter – also were on the selection panel, along with three pitchers from the top five in career saves – John Franco, Lee Smith and Bill Wagner.
Kimbrel is the first pitcher in baseball history to have 40 or more saves in each of his first four full Major League seasons. Over the past four years, Kimbrel has 185 saves — 48 more than any other pitcher. Already Atlanta’s career saves leader, Kimbrel became the third pitcher to register at least 40 saves in four consecutive seasons, joining Hoffman, who did it twice, and Francisco Rodriguez.