By Todd Farino, The Closer Report
Craig Kimbrel splashed onto the scene in 2011 and simply dominated. Granted he had some bad outings and battled inconsistency throughout the season that led to 8 blown saves. Still, the raining rookie of the year notched a record 46 saves for the Braves, was an All-Star, and managed 127 strikeouts. His ERA was only 2.10 throughout all that and his WHIP was even more impressive at 1.04. Kimbrel is an outstanding closer with the potential to be a HOF closer. Last year I described him as a right-handed version of Billy Wagner and I will stick to that. Kimbrel has a lights out 97+ MPH fastball and a slider that buckles even the best hitters.
Wagner is backed up by an average pitching staff, and improving offense. He also has a secret weapon, Johnny Venters in the setup role. While I expect Kimbrel to regress some it’s not because I think he will be terrible. His rookie campaign was just that good.
The Closer Report 2012 Projections: 43 Sv – 5 Wins – 2.45 ERA – 1.11 WHIP – 114 Ks
2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis:
Kimbrel is without a doubt a 4th or 5th round draft pick in 2012. Now, I have stated that I wouldn’t take a closer before the 6th round because of the value later in the draft, but if you want a filthy closer that will setup your bullpen for the entire season, go with Kimbrel. He’s young, healthy, and should only improve mentally as a closer in 2012.