New York, NY – Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel and Tampa Bay hander Jeremy Hellickson have been named the Jackie Robinson Award winners as the top rookies in the National and American League, respectively, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Kimbrel put forth the best rookie ever by a closer, as he set a rookie record with 46 saves and recorded 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. He limited opponents to a .178 batting average and recorded 14.84 strikeouts per nine innings, joining Carlos Marmol (2010), Eric Gagne ('03) and Billy Wagner (1998 and '99) as the only pitchers to post at least 14 strikeouts per nine innings and notch at least 30 saves in the same season.
He is the first Atlanta player to win the award since Rafael Furcal in 2000.
Hellickson, meanwhile, led all rookie pitchers in ERA (2.95), quality starts (20) and opponents' batting average (.210). He was 13-10, but that is a bit misleading, as he received one run or less in nine of his 10 losses with Tampa being blanked in five of his starts.
His batting average against was third lowest in the majors behind only Cy Young Award frontrunners Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, while his ERA was the lowest among qualifying AL rookies (based on a minimum 162 innings) since Kevin Appier compiled a 2.76 mark for the Royals in 1990.
Hellickson, whose 2.64 ERA in the second half ranked third among AL starters, is only the second Rays player to win this award, joining Evan Longoria in 2008.
More to follow.