In this July 5, 2011 file photo, Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel works in the ninth inning of a baseball game against Colorado Rockies, in Atlanta. Kimbrel and Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson were voted Rookies of the Year Monday Nov. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
After Tommy Hanson finished third in 2009 and Jason Heyward was second in 2010, a former Gwinnett Brave finally broke through in the National League rookie of the year voting.
Actually, it was a no-lose situation. G-Braves graduates finished first and second this season.
Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel was first on all 32 ballots in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of American announced Monday, becoming the first unanimous winner since Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in 2001.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who played with Kimbrel on the G-Braves in 2010, easily finished second. He was named on 28 of the 32 ballots, with 21 votes for second place.
Kimbrel is the first Atlanta player to win the BBWAA award since Rafael Furcal in 2000 and the sixth in Braves history dating back to the team’s days in Boston to be honored. Teammates hadn’t finished first and second since 1989, when the Cubs’ Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith did it.
Phillies pitcher Vance Worley was third in the NL voting, with Braves starter Brandon Beachy not named on any of the ballots. Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson beat out Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo to win the American League rookie of the year award.
Kimbrel set a major league rookie record with 46 saves, although he faltered late in the season as the Braves missed out on a playoff spot. He held opponents to a .178 batting average and struck out 127 over 77 innings while posting a 2.10 ERA in 79 games.
Freeman, 21, batted .285 with 21 homers and 76 RBIs. He led NL rookies in batting average, hits (161), doubles (32), homers, RBIs, on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.448).