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December 17, 2014

In My Opinion: In stats world, Braves' Kimbrel is just fine

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Posted: Friday, May 9, 2014 1:12 pm

What's wrong with Craig Kimbrel?

Nothing. Statistically, nothing is wrong with Craig Kimbrel. A couple of blown saves early in the season isn't reason to panic over the health, mental makeup, mortality, etc., of the Atlanta Braves' All-Star closer.

Despite a sore shoulder in April, his statistics aren't that far off what he posted in the previous three seasons as the Braves' full-time closer. He is giving up a few more hits than usual, but then again, the batting average of balls put in play against him is .400. That's an awful lot, and likely the result of having a few more balls fall in than usual. Over the course of the season, that figure will come down, and when it does, the rest of his statistics will come in line with what he typically does.

He has two blown saves, but he had four last year, including three by this point in the season. He had eight in 2011.

According to fangraphs.com, Kimbrel's average velocity is down slightly, but not enough to worry about. He is averaging 96.1 mph in fastball velocity, against 96.9 in 2013, 96.8 in 2012 and 96.2 in 2011. With a healthy shoulder, he should make up that extra 0.8 he is missing from last year, if that small amount is worth all that much.

We all would love our closer to go 1-2-3 every inning, but these are major league hitters, and if you've got a guy who gives up about one blown save a month (which is six for the season), then he's doing pretty well. In Mariano Rivera's last 11 full seasons as the Yankees' closer, he blew four or more saves in eight of those years. His fastball velocity averaged 92.7 for the last seven years of his career, which is as far back as fangraphs.com goes.

Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at medwards@annistonstar.com. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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