While it's not quite as prestigious as the Baseball Writers of America award that will be announced after the World Series, Atlanta Braves rookie closer Craig Kimbrel received a nice exclamation point on a dominant rookie season today when he was named the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News.
Voting for the award is done solely by MLB players, and 112 NL players chose Kimbrel as the league's best rookie in the 2011 season.
In 77 late-game innings this season, the right-handed 5'11 205 pitcher was nearly unhittable, with 127 strikeouts to 32 walks and a 2.30 ERA. From June 14 through Sep. 8, he made 38 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. He tied for the NL lead in saves with 46, shattering the previous rookie record.
Many believe his heavy usage earlier in the season contributed to his late-season fade, most notably his blown save on the last night of the regular season that knocked the Braves out of the playoffs.
However, Atlanta probably wouldn't be in that position in the first place without Kimbrel's dominance through the vast majority of the season, which he was rewarded for today in a vote of his peers.
For the latest on the Braves' off-season moves, check out the SBNation blog Talking Chop.