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Published: Monday, 11/14/2011

Braves' Kimbrell, Rays' Hellickson capture Rookie of the Year awards

Verlander expected to win Cy Young Award Tuesday

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel became the NL Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote and Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was a clear winner for the AL award Monday.

Kimbrel set a major league record for saves by a rookie with 46. The hard-throwing right-hander earned all 32 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Kimbrel outpointed Braves teammate Freddie Freeman.

Hellickson went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in helping the Rays win the AL wild-card spot. He drew 17 of 28 first-place votes and finished well ahead of Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo.

The AL Cy Young Award will be announced Tuesday. Detroit ace Justin Verlander is expected to easily win.

Kimbrel was overpowering for much of the season, striking out 127 in 77 innings. He also anchored a dominant Braves' bullpen, pitching 79 games. He was 4-3 with a 2.10 ERA.

The 23-year-old Kimbrel made 38 straight appearances in midseason without allowing a run. He seemed to wear down a bit in the stretch as the Braves frittered away a 10½-game lead in the NL wild-card race. His eighth blown save of the year came in the final game of the season, when he gave up the tying run in the ninth inning against Philadelphia. The Phillies went on to win in 13 innings, costing the Braves a spot in a one-game playoff against St. Louis for the wild-card slot.

Kimbrel wound up tied for Milwaukee's John Axford for the NL lead in saves. He became the 10th unanimous NL rookie winner, and first since Albert Pujols in 2001. Kimbrel was the seventh Braves player to win the award that began in 1947, and first since Rafael Furcal in 2000.



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