Jun 6, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) and catcher Evan Gattis (24) celebrate defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Braves won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Kimbrel surpasses Smoltz as Braves' saves leader

Friday Craig Kimbrel surpassed an almost guaranteed future Hall of Famer to become the Atlanta Braves’ franchise all-time saves leader.

John Smoltz had held that record. An eight time All-Star and Cy Young Award winner Smoltz is likely to join his former teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the Hall of Fame. Maddux and Glavine will be official HOF members after their induction ceremonies this July.

Kimbrel has been one of, if not the most, dominant closer in the past few years. Kimbrel was called up in 2010 but only appeared in four games for the Braves. He earned the Rookie of the Year Award in 2o11 finishing 64 games, saving 46 games and doing it all with a 2.10 ERA. Friday, in the midst of his fourth full big league season, Kimbrel was awarded his 155th save becoming a new Braves’ living legend.

It took Smoltz four seasons as the Braves closer to get to 154 saves. It took Kimbrel just three and 0ne third seasons. However, when Smoltz became Atlanta’s closer he was already an established and respected starter. Kimbrel, who turned 26 on May 28, became a dominant closer the moment he stepped out onto the field at the age of 23.

His ERA has been under 2.00 every season since 2011. It seems completely impossible doesn’t it? Safe to say in Kimbrel’s case it is not impossible. As the National League Rookie of the Year in 2011 Kimbrel had an ERA of 2.10. His ERA has been under .200 ever since. In the past three seasons he has not only been an All-Star but his ERA was an astonishing 1.01 in 2012 and 1.21 in 2013. During those years the All-Star closer has recorded 46 saves in 2011, 42 in 2012 and 50 in 2013.

In 2014 he has already recorded 15 saves and has an ERA of 1.77. He can now add to his already impressive resume that he is the Braves’ all-time saves leader. Being this good at just 26, barring injury and assuming he continues amassing 40-plus saves a season, he might just give Mariano Rivera a run for his title as Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader. You must be thinking, “did she just go there?” It may be blasphemy, but yes, I did. The kid is just that good.



Tags: Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel John Smoltz

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